Nats add another potential depth starter in Kuhl

The Nationals have added another experienced starter to a rotation depth chart that was lacking in that department, signing right-hander Chad Kuhl to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp later this month.

Kuhl, 30, has made 111 major league starts, the first 84 of which came for the Pirates from 2016-21. He spent last season with the Rockies, struggling to a 6-11 record and 5.72 ERA in 27 starts, though he did toss a three-hit shutout over the Dodgers on June 27 at Coors Field.

Kuhl actually totaled eight quality starts for Colorado, only one fewer than Patrick Corbin and Josiah Gray produced for the Nationals.

Somewhat surprisingly, though, the right-hander fared worse on the road than he did at home, going 3-7 with a 6.32 ERA and 1.693 WHIP away from Coors Field while going 3-4 with a 5.04 ERA and 1.399 WHIP at mile-high altitude.

During his five seasons in Pittsburgh, Kuhl went 25-30 with a 4.44 ERA. His best performance came in 2017, when he went 8-11 with a 4.35 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 31 starts.

Also in the Pirates’ rotation that year was Trevor Williams, now projected as the Nationals’ No. 5 starter after he signed a two-year, $13 million deal earlier this winter.

Kuhl won’t have that kind of job security on a minor league deal, and his odds of making the Opening Day roster are probably slim unless one of the five expected starters (Williams, Corbin, Gray, Cade Cavalli, MacKenzie Gore) is injured.

But the Nats have been trying to bolster their rotation depth, with their options beyond those five rather thin. In addition to Kuhl, they recently signed 33-year-old Wily Peralta. Those two join swingmen Paolo Espino and Cory Abbott, Rule 5 draftee Thad Ward and Triple-A starter Joan Adon as fallback options should a spot in the big league rotation open.

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