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Nats roster review: Matt Thornton


Nats roster review: Matt Thornton

Age on Opening Day 2016: 39

How acquired: Selected off waivers Aug. of 2014

MLB service time: 11 years, 129 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $3.5 million

Contract status: Free agent

2015 stats: 60 G, 41.1 IP, 33 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 2 HR, 11 BB, 23 K, 1.265 WHIP, 2-1, 2.18 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 1.2 WAR

Quotable: "You kind of try to pick up things and see what’s made them successful. It is a difficult thing, especially to have that longevity. I try to be as close to Thornton as possible and at least just hear what he’s trying to say," rookie Matt Grace.

2015 analysis: The Nationals bullpen was an issue for much of the 2015 season as they struggled to overcome the loss of Tyler Clippard in an offseason trade and a season-ending injury for Craig Stammen. Those two had formed the backbone of the Nats' relief corps for years and removing them produced an obvious domino effect.

Through the Nats' bullpen's struggles with inexperience and unreliability in late innings, veteran Matt Thornton provided Matt Williams a relatively reliable option. There were points in the 2015 season where he was not used much - he only pitched six times in July - but Thornton produced strong numbers highlighted by his 2.18 ERA in 60 appearances.

Thornton was particularly good down the stretch with 19 consecutive scoreless outings to close the year. He did not allow a run after Aug. 14., an impressive streak despite the team's slide during that part of the season.

2016 outlook: Thornton does not have a contract for 2016, but does plan to pitch. Given his numbers this past season, he should have no problem finding a one or two-year deal from somebody, whether that's in Washington or elsewhere. The Atlanta Braves, for one, have already expressed interest in signing him.

It is unclear if the Nationals are interested in retaining Thornton, as right now they have bigger fish to fry in their bullpen. They have to make decisions on Jonathan Pabelbon and Drew Storen. If they jettison one or both of them, then they will need to find late-inning relievers, which will not be easy.

Thornton could still provide value to the Nationals if they brought him back as a lefty option for the sixth and seventh innings. We'll see if he fits into what could be a top-to-bottom rebuild of their bullpen.

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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.