We’ve been seeing this all season long; the Washington Nationals have excellent pitching depth that reaches well into the Minor Leagues. Thanks to three September call-ups, we’ve gotten to see some of that pitching depth and excellence at the Major League level.
The three pitchers that I am referring to are Xavier Cedeno, Erik Davis and Ian Krol. You may have seen these three before as they have all made spot appearances throughout the season. This September has been exceptional for all three pitchers. For Davis, it’s been an exceptional month as he has given up just two hits in three innings of relief work and has yet to give up a run. He’s struck out three and hasn’t allowed a walk.
For Cedeno and Krol, they’ve been just as steady. Cedeno has given up just three hits over 3.1 innings of work while striking out five and giving up one run in his first September outing against the Miami Marlins. We haven’t seen quite the same quality of work from Krol. While in appearances earlier in the season he’s looked good, he’s been somewhat shaky this September giving up three runs and six hits over two innings of work spanning four appearances.
Even though he has struggled this month, Krol is a pitcher that can give you quality innings. In his first nine appearances at the MLB level back in June, he didn’t give up a single run. In his first eight appearances, he didn’t even give up a hit. So while he’s struggled this month, there really is no cause for concern.
The best thing about these three pitchers is that they all come out of the bullpen. The book on the Nationals has been simple; get to the bullpen. The starting pitching, with the exception of Dan Haren, has been very strong all season long. Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann have been three of the best starters in the league, you just don’t know about them because the Nationals have had a rough season. Once a reliever stepped on the mound, however, the wheels began to fall off and teams were able to get back into games and sometimes even win them.
With Cedeno, Krol and Davis, the Nationals have three steady arms to turn to when the starter get’s worn out late in an outing or if he get’s roughed up early and has to be pulled after a few short innings. They don’t need to worry about the inconsistency in the bullpen because there are at least three, likely four or five pitchers that can fill in and give you solid innings.
What makes this situation even better is the fact that these guys are all young. At 27 years old, Erik Davis is the oldest and Ian Krol is the youngest at 22 with Xavier Cedeno being 26 years old. These three pitchers will be around for years to come and that only bodes well for the Nationals. Relief pitching, and pitching in general, will be one less thing for them to worry about and one more thing for opposing teams to lose sleep over.
While you don’t want to count them out yet, it will take a miracle for the Nationals to make the playoffs this year. Even if they don’t, fans should still be excited as they have a lot of potential already on the team that will help them stay competitive for years to come.