PHILADELPHIA - Needing a fresh arm after four consecutive days of extensive bullpen use, the Nationals purchased the contract of Matt Albers this morning, ensuring the veteran right-hander will be available if needed during today’s series finale against the Phillies.
Jeremy Guthrie, who was rocked for 10 runs in only two-thirds of an inning Saturday night, was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot.
It was an unceremonious, but necessary, end to Guthrie’s 24 hours with the Nationals. The 38-year-old, who admitted he was contemplating retirement this spring had he not made the big league roster, departs with a 135.00 ERA and an uncertain future.
Albers, 34, had been on the opening day roster with Triple-A Syracuse but had not yet pitched because the Chiefs had two rainouts and didn’t finally take the field until Saturday afternoon. He’s fresh and ready to contribute whatever the Nats need from him.al
“As long as I can,” he said when asked how many innings he can provide. “We’ll see. I mean, it depends. Most of the time, it’s about three innings. It just depends. I’ll keep going until I can’t. ... I know they’ve thrown a lot. Hopefully, can give them a break if they need me.”
A veteran of 11 seasons with six different major league clubs, Albers signed a minor league contract with the Nationals after posting a 6.31 ERA in 58 games for the White Sox last season. He impressed this spring, pitching 11 2/3 scoreless innings, but couldn’t leapfrog other relievers to make the opening day roster.
Given the option of becoming a free agent and signing elsewhere, Albers elected to remain in the Nationals organization and report to Triple-A, hoping an opportunity would arrive.
“I kind of knew if I couldn’t find a big league job, if it wasn’t available, I would come back,” he said. “I like the organization. I know I kind of showed them what I could do in spring, but it was kind of like the numbers game. They had seven guys who had spots, and just kind of fell out of that top seven. I was excited to come back.”
Albers gives manager Dusty Baker another option for innings out of the bullpen, which could be necessary given the way the week has progressed. Over the last four days, the Nationals have needed 17 relievers to pitch a total of 16 2/3 innings.
The four pitchers who appeared in relief of Guthrie on Saturday night - Enny Romero, Joe Blanton, Oliver Pérez, Shawn Kelley - all are expected to be unavailable to pitch today. Blake Treinen, Koda Glover and Sammy Solis should be available, along with Albers.