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The Washington Nationals' closer situation has been one the Fantasy Baseball community has kept on their radar throughout the offseason and into spring training. The Nationals failed to land any of the elite free agent closers and while logic says David Robertson makes sense since the White Sox are rebuilding, it doesn't appear to be the case.
Koda Glover looked like a dark horse in January and it appears as if it may become reality. Nationals manager Dusty Baker has a tendency to prefer veterans over younger, unproven players, but Baker said on Tuesday he's trying to find out if Glover is ready for the ninth inning. In his last five appearances this spring, Glover has pitched in the ninth inning. He has been dominant in eight games, producing a 1.13 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 11 strikeouts over eight innings of work. However, pitching in the ninth inning of the spring is way different than the regular season. Glover isn't facing many players that will be in Major League Baseball starting lineups.
What matters is Baker is considering Glover for the closer job and Glover is pitching well. Spring training stats don't mean much unless a player is battling for a job. Glover, who turns 24 in April, went from single-A to the majors last season. He mainly throws a fastball and a nasty slider, a pitch he threw often last year. His fastball averaged over 96 miles per hour. It was a small sample in the majors last season as Glover pitched in just 19 games. He didn't fare too well either. In 19.2 innings, he allowed 15 hits, 11 earned runs, walked seven and struck out 16. He had a swinging strike rate of 11.2 percent. Not only are his big league numbers from a small sample, but Glover wasn't healthy. He tried to pitch through a hip injury that turned out to be a torn labrum.
One of the things the Nationals liked about Glover last season was that he showed no fear. He wasn't afraid to shake off catchers if he didn't like the sign put down.
Shawn Kelley looks like he has the ability to close, but the Nationals are concerned about his injury history. Kelley has had Tommy John surgery twice and relies heavily on a slider that takes a toll on the elbow. While Kelley can pitch consecutive days, the Nationals want to be careful with his usage.
Blake Treinen is another candidate to close, but he doesn't strikeout a ton of batters. The ideal closer is able to produce a lot of swings and misses.
I took Glover in round 27 of the 15-team mixed league Tout Wars draft two weeks ago with the hope Glover would rise to the top of the depth chart. While it's not official yet, the price on Glover will rise immensely after this news. Glover is the first reliever I would take off the board from the Nationals. The Nationals could still trade for a closer at some point, but if Glover gets the first shot and pitches well, Fantasy owners will have found a diamond in the rough.