More changeups could help keep Glover healthy

The Nationals couldn’t end the season on a run that netted a playoff spot, but right-hander Koda Glover was able to finish the season healthy for the first time in two campaigns.

The 6-foot-5, 215-lb. right-hander hasn’t been able to pitch more than 25 innings or appear in more than 24 games in his three seasons with the Nats.

Glover, 25, returned to the lineup in August of last season, his first meaningful baseball since June 2017. It was an up-and-down return, but in the last month, he got into a better groove.

He allowed only two earned runs on six hits in his final 11 appearances.

Koda-Glover-throw-gray-sidebar.jpgIt is a big deal for Glover to arrive at spring training this season 100 percent healthy. And there is an opportunity for Glover to find a consistent spot in the bullpen. His goal for 2019 is to make it through an entire season without a major injury setback, something he has not been able to do in his first three seasons in the big leagues, from 2016 to 2018.

His strikeouts were down and his walks were up in his abbreviated return in 2018. But he gave up just four walks in his final 11 appearances after allowing six free passes in his first 10 games. It was a good sign to see Glover give up only 13 hits in the final two months of 2018.

Noticeable in 2018 was his confidence in employing his changeup 200 percent more than he had in 2016 (0.6 percent) and 2017 (6.3 percent). In 2018, according to FanGraphs.com, Glover threw the changeup 21.9% of the time. At 86.9 mph, his changeup was a perfect complement to his fastball (95.5 mph).

Using his changeup more meant that Glover did not have to throw his fastball as much. In 2018, he threw his fastball 39.2 percent of the time. With the use of his changeup over 20 percent of the time, FanGraphs tracked a decrease in Glover’s use of his cutter, from 48.3 percent to 29.7 percent.

Could less reliance on his fastball and cut fastball play a part in Glover staying healthy for an entire season? Maybe.

It appears that if he can continue to use the changeup as one of his top three pitches, Glover might able to keep himself available from March to October.

The main goal for Glover this season is to make it through the year without a major setback. If his last month of 2018 was a glimpse into what Glover can accomplish for an entire season, that would be ideal for a Nats bullpen searching for season-long consistency in 2019.



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