Nationals

Quick Links

Barrett seizing setup role but watching workload

aaronbarrett050415.png

Barrett seizing setup role but watching workload

After a month spent tinkering and trying out different candidates, the Nationals may have found a reliable setup man at last in Aaron Barrett. Now, they just have to make sure they don’t run the right-hander into the ground from too much use.

Barrett has become among the Nationals’ effective relievers, sporting a 1.59 ERA and 0.794 WHIP in 14 appearances to date. And manager Matt Williams has begun turning to him when needing to protect an eighth-inning lead, including Saturday and Sunday during 1-0 victories in New York.

“I think success helps,” Williams said. “The fact that he’s been able to hold them and get an out when we needed it, it helps him out, and that speaks to his confidence.”

Williams has come to rely on Barrett over the last few weeks, perhaps too much. The 27-year-old’s 14 appearances entering Monday are tied for the MLB lead, leaving him on pace for a staggering 87 games pitched over a full season.

So far, Barrett has been able to manage the workload, having learned plenty as a rookie last season. Though he’s been a reliever his entire professional career, nothing could truly prepare him for life in a big-league bullpen.

“The workload as a reliever, you don’t really experience it until you get here,” he said. “You don’t really warm up and not go in, in the minor leagues. So kind of understanding how many throws you need to get hot, how many throws you need to almost get hot, it plays a large factor in trying to stay fresh every single day. You don’t really know how to do it until you go through it.”

Barrett said he’s picked up plenty of good advice from current teammates Drew Storen, Craig Stammen and Matt Thornton, plus ex-teammate Tyler Clippard. Among the most important traits to develop: How to keep enough in the reserve tank in case he needs to warm up multiple times within the same game.

For now, Barrett has done a good job handling it. If things go the way they hope, though, the Nationals won’t need to ask this much of their young right-hander the entire season.

“We don’t ideally want him to pitch that much,” Williams said. “But the game dictates what you have to do sometimes. Yesterday was kind of the situation that he’s been in a lot, where you got some big, hairy guy at the plate and we need a punch-out. And he provided it again. He had that opportunity a lot last year. We don’t want him pitching as much as we’ve pitched him. But he’s resilient, he’s strong, he’s eager to have the baseball. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be that volume.”

Quick Links

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

Quick Links

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE