The Washington Nationals have multiple options that could handle the ninth inning this season. This may be the last time they have to worry about a closer for years to come.
Kyle Finnegan is currently the Nationals’ closer entering the year. However, if he can stay healthy, Hunter Harvey is lurking in the wings, waiting for his chance. Sean Doolittle is back as well and could get a look in the ninth. For both Doolittle and Harvey, health will be a major factor. Whoever wins that battle may just be keeping the seat warm for Zach Brzykcy.
Zack Brzykcy may be key part of Washington Nationals future
Brzykcy was considered one of the best relief prospects in the country heading into the 2020 season. His high octane fastball and low 80s curve with two plane movement seemed likely to set him up for success. Instead, he struggled in the pandemic shortened season, leading to his being undrafted in the shortened 2020 MLB Draft. He signed with the Nationals for $20,000, the highest bonus allowed due to the pandemic.
He struggled again in 2021 as he acclimated to affiliated ball. However, after being sent back to Wilmington to begin the 2022 season, everything came together for Brzykcy. He rocketed through the system, making a pair of appearances in Triple-A to finish the year. He posted a 1.76 ERA and a 1.011 WHiP in his 61.1 innings across three levels, striking out 95 batters with 29 walks. Although his walk rate was high, he showed the type of swing and miss stuff needed to handle the ninth inning in the majors.
It all comes down to his ability to harness his stuff. If Brzykcy can improve his command, he can become a piece that the Nationals can build around. While a dominant closer on a rebuilding team is akin to expensive rims on a Yugo, it is one spot that the Nationals would not need to worry about. The core has to begin somewhere and Brzykcy can be part of that.
The Washington Nationals closer situation is unsettled heading into the season. Zach Brzykcy could be that answer moving forward.