Rivero's struggles coming to a head for Nationals

The Nationals have long seen in Felipe Rivero a dynamic left-hander with the kind of overwhelming stuff that suggest he could become a big league closer some day in the not-too-distant future.

That may yet happen, but at this particular moment, Rivero looks like a pitcher in need of a major overhaul.

"He's in a bad state right now," manager Dusty Baker told reporters in San Diego following last night's 7-3 loss. "Nothing's really going his way."

That's an understatement. Rivero has faced 31 batters so far this month. Seventeen of them have successful reached base (via 10 hits, six walks and an error committed by Rivero himself). Fourteen of those have wound up scoring a run, leaving the lefty with a 21.94 ERA in June and a 6.82 ERA in 34 total appearances this season.


It all came to a head late last night at Petco Park, when Rivero was handed a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth and promptly turned it into a 7-3 deficit after letting all six Padres he faced reach base, the last on a ghastly error in which Rivero bobbled a comebacker with the bases loaded but instead of starting a routine 1-2-3 double play threw the ball away.

Baker trudged to the mound to take the ball from Rivero, who trudged back to the dugout after his implosion. Each man certainly had to be pondering in that moment what happens next.

The Nationals haven't many very many transactions so far this season. They've placed three players on the disabled list (Ben Revere, Matt Belisle, Jonathan Papelbon), placed one player on paternity leave (Ryan Zimmerman), placed one player on bereavement leave (Wilson Ramos) and called up one player as the 26th man for a doubleheader (Matt den Dekker).

But they have not yet made a roster change for performance reasons.

They may have no choice but to now consider doing it with Rivero.

"We've all been talking to him and trying to put him into a positive state of mind," Baker told reporters. "If we knew what to do, then I'd bottle it and he wouldn't have gone this far. We've just got to give him some support and give him some love, basically. And just say: 'Hey, man, we're with you.' And then the rest is up to him."

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