There is a bit of concern regarding the left-handed depth available out of the Nationals bullpen heading into the 2013 campaign.
Zach Duke and Bill Bray are the top names that will get the best shot to be the lefty specialists out of the ‘pen. Duke did well in his work last season with the Nationals and despite some injuries, Bray had success with the Cincinnati Reds. And he also was with the Nationals before he was traded away in 2007.
But do the Nationals need more depth at the spot?
Ross Detwiler has experience in the bullpen, but is a starter by trade and proved in big games last year that he could deliver.
Fernando Abad and Brandon Mann are non-roster invitees who will get a shot. Abad had his moments with the Astros in 2012 while Mann has never pitched in the majors, reaching the Double-A level in the Rays organization, spending the past two seasons pitching in Japan.
And then there is the homegrown talent Pat McCoy, right in the Nationals system. McCoy, a 10th-round selection in 2007, got the spring training invite because of how well he has pitched for Double-A Harrisburg. McCoy went 7-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 50 games for the Senators, pitching 58 1/3 innings with 60 strikeouts, 18 walks, nine homers and only 24 earned runs.
His stock rose even higher following his tremendous performance for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League. McCoy was 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 21 games (13 2/3 innings), allowing just four earned runs. His final 10 appearances, he went 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA, surrendering a single earned run.
Harrisburg pitching coach Paul Menhart said McCoy pitched very well last season and “at times was dominating.”
“I think the organization is doing an outstanding job to give an opportunity from within instead of going out and getting someone else,” Menhart said. “Knowing that left-handed specialists are hard to come by, and having one in your own backyard makes perfect sense. I am glad they are giving him a shot.”
The Nationals organization has promoted from within many times to build their staff, guys like Craig Stammen, Cole Kimball, Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock and even Christian Garcia (Yankees) spent almost two seasons in the system before getting a shot. McCoy is another example of the depth in the system.