Nationals prospect reliever Patrick Lehman was rolling early on this season and quickly got his promotion to Double-A Harrisburg.
So, as is the case all the time in minor league baseball, when a player advances, an opportunity is made available to allow another top prospect a shot to shine in the organization. With a vacancy in the closer role, the Potomac Nationals have turned to right-hander Hector Nelo, and he has delivered.
In his last 10 games prior to Friday’s outing, Nelo went 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA and seven saves, three earned runs allowed, 14 strikeouts and six walks in 12 1/3 innings.
Nelo, acquired from the Texas Rangers, has received a lot of attention with his impressive velocity, throwing mid-to-upper 90’s mph.
Overall, Nelo is 1-0 with a 2.59 ERA and 11 saves in 20 games.
Left-hander Josh Smoker has “done a pretty nice job as well”, according to Potomac Nationals pitching coach Paul Menhart. Smokers’ numbers are stunning, putting up a 0.82 ERA with just one earned run allowed the last 10 games.
Left-hander Joe Testa from Wagner is also impressing the Nationals’ minor league coaching staff. “Testa has been a very good surprise with his change of arm angle, coming way down under,” Menhart said. Testa has done even better, with a 1.21 ERA this season and has not surrendered a single run in his last 10 outings (in 10 innings).
“Testa is a guy that can throw three or four days in a row if he really needed to,” Menhart said. “He has a very durable arm. He needs touches so he can get used to this new arm slot. He has been very good.”
Although he has struggled to throw strikes consistently, right-hander Rob Wort is putting up the numbers with great velocity and a 1.50 ERA the last 10 games.
Wort “is throwing low 90’s mph, the ball is deceptive coming out,” Menhart said. “The score doesn’t matter with him. He treats every pitch like it is his last one. That is what I like about Rob Wort.”
Overall, Menhart said the relievers are keeping the P-Nats in games and are not allowing opponents to add to their run totals late in games.
“I am pretty pleased with the whole bullpen situation the way it stands right now,” Menhart said.