The rookie reliever had essentially taken over the role last week after Shawn Kelley blew a save opportunity against the Phillies, but Dusty Baker was unwilling to go so far as to formally pronounce it.
But after Wednesday night’s 5-1 win over the Mariners, in which Glover pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, the Nats manager relented (or slipped) and made it official.
“Koda was kind of lobbying for that in the first place,” Baker said. “We wanted to break him in slowly because this guy’s ... shoot, he’s only a year-and-a-half out of college. So he had said that’s the job he wanted, and so it’s his now.”
There were some within the organization who wanted to name Glover the closer right out of spring training, but the powers that be felt it was too much responsibility for a 24-year-old with 19 games of big league experience.
So the job went to Blake Treinen, who lasted only 2 1/2 weeks before getting demoted to his old fireman role in earlier innings. Kelley was next up, but then both he and Glover landed on the disabled list with minor ailments, leaving Baker with no choice but to mix and match for nearly two weeks.
Once Kelley struggled again upon returning from the DL, Glover ascended to the ninth inning. And in four appearances since, he has yet to allow a run. (Though it should be noted only one of the four appearances came in an official save situation.)
“He’s very calm,” Baker said. “He throws strikes, quality strikes, and he has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing for a young pitcher.”
Glover showed off his stuff Wednesday night, including one slider to Mike Zunino that registered 94 mph with significant break. He finished off the ninth inning on 13 pitches and calmly shook catcher Matt Wieters’ hand as the entire team gathered at the center of the diamond to celebrate its third straight win.
Whether the rookie keeps this up and doesn’t give the job away remains to be seen. This much is certain: He wants the job now.
“Yeah, I don’t think Koda is going to back away from anything,” Wieters said. “He’s got that mentality where he’s going to go after you, and go after you real hard. And that suits well for the end of the game.”