Nationals have plenty of options, depth in bullpen
VIERA, Fla. (AP) The Washington Nationals retooled their bullpen after last year's flop.
Former closer Drew Storen was traded to Toronto, and Washington jettisoned Casey Janssen, Matt Thornton and Craig Stammen.
General manager Mike Rizzo acquired hard-throwing young right-hander Trevor Gott from the Los Angeles Angeles and signed Shawn Kelley, Yusmeiro Petit and Oliver Perez. And then there are holders Felipe Rivero, Matt Grace, Sammy Solis, Rafael Martin, Blake Treinen and Abel De Los Santos, plus non-roster invitees like Burke Badenhop and Matt Belisle.
''I would assume, without even playing a spring training game, that we're probably going to have one of the better bullpens, just alone with our depth,'' Kelley sad. ''That's what I think separates the great bullpens from average ones.''
Kelley, who signed a $15 million, three-year contract, figures to be used at the back end of the bullpen, while Petit will likely be used in mid-to-long relief and Perez is a left-handed specialist.
Gott, a 23-year-old who went 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 48 games for the Angels last season, throws a 96 mph fastball. New manager Dusty Baker compared him with talented prospect Lucas Giolito.
''He has a good arm,'' Baker said. ''He has a quick arm, too.''
Rivero is a hard-throwing left-hander who could be a future closer. The 24-year-old made his major league debut last year and saved two games at the end of the season when Papelbon was serving his suspension.
If Kelley pitches the eighth, Rivero is a likely candidate for the seventh-inning role, though it's not hard to see those roles being reversed at some point.
''We've got guys with great arms and great stuff, and we think with the depth we've created, we've got ourselves a bullpen that we can count on to hold leads and help us win games,'' Rizzo said.
NOTES: Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez both pitched a scoreless inning in Monday's intrasquad game. . Bronson Arroyo, who is making a comeback after Tommy John surgery, also threw a scoreless inning.