The National League East is basically a one-team race this season. The Washington Nationals hold a comfortable lead within the division, holding a nine-game edge over the second-place Atlanta Braves as they entered play on Wednesday evening. The team is one of four clubs with 50 wins prior to last night’s games.
They have a rotation filled with several aces. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg form one of the deadliest one-two punches in MLB. On offense, they are led by MVP candidate Bryce Harper. Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon make up another three bats that opposing pitcher fear having to face.
In total, the team currently has five All-Stars. Rendon is a part of the Final Vote, which could make it six if he can overcome Justin Turner in the voting.
However, the team is still missing one key piece. A shutdown closer.
To say the back end of the Nationals bullpen has been a dumpster fire this season would be generous. They have rotated through names such as Koda Glover, Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, Matt Albers and Enny Romero. Unless the team can solidify the back end of the pen, they are doomed to repeat history bow out of the playoffs early.
So the time is now to start scouring the trade market for a potential closer. Many will point to David Robertson of the Chicago White Sox, as he is seen as the top reliever on the market. Other relievers who are available this July will include the likes of Addison Reed (New York Mets), Brad Hand (San Diego Padres) and Justin Wilson (Detroit Tigers).
But none of those names should be a top the Nats wish list. That spot should belong to former Monmouth University pitcher, and current Baltimore Orioles closer, Brad Brach.
When the season began, Zach Britton was firmly entrenched in the closer’s role for the O’s. But then the season began, and Britton was hit with forearm issues, landing him on the disabled list. As a result, Brach stepped in and took the closer’s role by the horns.
Brach, an All-Star a season ago, has notched 15 saves in 19 attempts this season. He is currently sporting a 2.72 ERA to go along with 0.91 WHIP and 36 strikeouts over the course of 36 and a third innings. The 31 year old has done an excellent job in holding the role while Britton recovers from his injury.
Now Britton is back, as he has officially been activated from the DL. The Orioles entered play Wednesday with a 40-43 record, placing them in fourth in the AL East, which is good for eight and a half games behind in the division. Add in the fact that they currently need to leapfrog five teams to get a Wild Card slot, and things set up for the O’s to be potential sellers.
The pen is certainly loaded with good names for the Orioles. So they could easily afford to part ways with Britton, Brach or another arm. Britton would likely need to prove his health before getting moved, however. Add in the fact that both have one year of arbitration left before free agency and Brach costs much less.
So given his production, and cheaper price tag, Brach would make plenty of sense for the Nats. The Nationals need to make a move to sure up their pen. In a season where the Orioles are on the borderline of contending, moving Brad Brach to the NL East favorites is a logical move.
What do you think? Should the Washington Nationals go after a trade for Brach? Maybe for Britton? Or is there another name you like better? Tell us what you think in the comments!