Nationals Make Subtle, Meaningful Bullpen Moves

Washington’s new pitching coach, Mike Maddux, has a mantra: “Command the fastball. Change speeds.” I mention this because the 23-year-old Gott has a relatively extreme spread in velocity between his fastball and his off-speed offerings; his fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90s, and his curveball hovers in the 80 mph range. That’s a 16 mph difference, and we know that greater the difference in velocity, the better pitches play.

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Player A is Chapman, Player B is Giles, and Player C is Gott.

Relievers are associated with high K/9 rates for the obvious reason that getting outs without tempting fate – i.e., without putting a ball into play – is the best possible outcome in high-leverage situations.  Giles and Chapman are well ahead of Gott in that area. Gott may never be a pitcher who posts huge strikeout numbers — though he did rack up 131 punch outs in 124 minor league innings — but that doesn’t mean he’s a pitcher without strengths.

His groundball rate paces these comps, and his HR/9 rate sits comfortably between two of the best relievers in the game. And in fairness to Gott, he’s the youngest in this trio by far (Giles is two years his senior, Chapman four years.)

Whether Gott will really become the team’s next generation bullpen ace, another Tyler Clippard-type stalwart, obviously only time will tell. But he’s under Washington’s control for the next six years. He’s young, he’s cheap, he throws hard, the initial results are promising and he’ll be paired up with a highly regarded pitching coach in Mike Maddux. What’s not to like?

Lastly, it’s incredibly important to note that Rizzo and the Nationals have undertaken this bullpen rehab project without surrendering any of their prized young talent. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo LopezAustin VothVictor Robles, and Pedro Severino all remain in the farm system. And in Gott, the Nationals have added another piece of young major league-ready talent to the mix.

These fringe bullpen deals aren’t sexy; they’re not great media fodder. But the Nationals have added four effective pieces at reasonable prices in an area of major need – and that’s what matters most.

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