Updated: 6:50 p.m.
In Koda Glover, the Nationals believe they have a young reliever who is ready to pitch high leverage innings, despite the fact he's only 23 and just 15 months ago was an eighth round draft pick out of Oklahoma State University.
He's only appeared in 13 games at the big league level and just 59 total as a professional, including the minors. But his potential is obvious. He throws a high-90s fastball with movement, a sharp slider and has a menacing attitude they absolutely love.
But on Friday night, Glover hit one of his first obstacles as a big leaguer. Glover had allowed runs before, but it wasn't until Friday against the Phillies that he had both blown a save and been charged with the runs that came in.
Glover's big mistake was a three-run homer to Cameron Rupp. That came in the top of the eighth and it tied the game to set up Trea Turner's walk-off homer in the ninth.
"I didn't have any command of any of my stuff and that's the first time that's happened in my career," Glover said. "I'm an aggressive pitcher, but at the same time you've gotta be a smart pitcher. Two sliders in a row where I missed my spot. I fell behind in the count and I go with the fastball and he [freaking] hit it. That's how it goes."
It didn't up mattering much, as the Nats won. But manager Dusty Baker sees this is an opportunity to see what Glover is made of. How he bounces back will reveal plenty to him as a coach.
"We'll see. This is all part of the process. This is all part of the process of being a big leaguer," Baker explained.
"The thing about the bullpen, especially late in the game, you have to be able to forget yesterday. You know what I mean? I've seen the best give them up. Even Mariano Rivera, he gave them up sometimes. The mark of a reliever - and most of them are kind of eccentric and on the crazy side - but they have the ability to forget yesterday, especially if it was bad. We'll see."
Baker is confident Glover will rebound and likes the potential of the young right-hander.
"He's been pretty good late in the game. That's the first time he's given it up," Baker said. "This guy's got electric stuff. You know what I mean?"
Glover doesn't think this outing will linger. He has plenty of experience pitching late in tight games.
"It's not the first time I've been in situations like that. I was a closer in college. I've pitched in a lot of big spots. Last night was just another one of those spots. That happens. That's just how it goes," he said.
Putting Glover on the mound in the eighth inning of a three-run game shows how much Baker likes the rookie. With a deep September bullpen, Baker could have opted to use a veteran. But despite the result, Baker doesn't regret trusting Glover in that spot.
"You can second-guess the move or whatever, but everything doesn't work all the time. Sometimes it works on the other side. You don't like it, but that's part of the game," he said.
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