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Nats like options already on roster to fill 8th inning setup role

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Nats like options already on roster to fill 8th inning setup role

Trading Drew Storen to the Blue Jays was probably best for both the Nationals and the reliever himself, as a change of scenery could resurrect his career and the team parted ways with a guy they had already replaced as closer twice in a span of three years.

Getting rid of Storen, however, does leave a void in the Nationals' bullpen. It is much deeper after several additions this offseason, but the question of who pitches the eighth inning is now an important one.

The Nationals added a group of relievers this winter that includes Shawn Kelley, Trevor Gott, Oliver Perez and Yusmeiro Petit. They also have some young up-and-comers who have shown promise.

All of them provide different skillsets, and GM Mike Rizzo is confident one of them can lock down the setup role for 2016.

"We’ve got several candidates internally, we feel, that can handle the role," Rizzo said. "We feel good about where we’re at in the bullpen. We’ve got depth. We’ve got quality. We’ve got guys who have pitched in an array of roles in the backend of games."

When asked about the setup role last week, Rizzo first explained why Kelley could succeed in the job:

"Kelley has done it for a long time. Shawn has shown the propensity to set up and either close in a major market like New York City. He filled in for [David] Robertson in 2014 and had 12 holds there and four saves. His leverage index of innings was well above average in ’14. He’s pitched extremely well in New York and in San Diego. So we feel good about that."

Then, Rizzo went more in depth on Gott:

"Some of the younger guys that we have, there are some impressive young arms. The kid Gott that we received in the trade with the Angels. His leverage index was above average last year. Thirty-five percent of his appearances in his first year in the big leagues were in the seventh inning or later with a one-run or tie game. So this guy’s pitched in some big opportunities."

Rizzo also mentioned both Blake Treinen and Felipe Rivero as possibilities, then went back to another one of his offseason signings:

"Don’t forget, you’ve got Petit who has obviously pitched a lot of big, meaningful innings in his career," he said.

The names Rizzo mentioned all bring their own positives and negatives. In terms of experience, Kelley would have the upper hand. He is a seven-year veteran with more time logged in the eighth inning than the others combined. Petit is also a veteran and is the only one of the bunch with playoff experience.

Career 8th inning stats:

Gott: 11 G, 8.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, .167 BAA

Kelley: 103 G, 81.1 IP, 3.65 ERA, .233 BAA

Petit: 33 G, 30.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, .224 BAA

Rivero: 13 G, 11.1 IP, 0.79 ERA, .154 BAA

Treinen: 28 G, 26 IP, 3.46 ERA, .274 BAA

The highest ceiling may belong to one of the young guys. Gott, Rivero and Treinen all boast fastballs in the mid- to high-90s and bring electricity out of the bullpen. But with their upside comes inexperience, which the Nationals struggled with in 2015 when they relied too much on rookies.

Some years the setup role is clearly defined heading into spring training. At this point that does not appear to be the case for the Nationals, but they appear confident they have plenty of options for Dusty Baker to choose from.

[RELATED: Nats' GM Rizzo issues a detailed defense of Papelbon]

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.