Image credit: Daniel Hudson (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Sitting in the National League’s first wild-card spot with a tenuous half-game lead, the Nationals fortified their maligned bullpen Wednesday by acquiring Daniel Hudson from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor league righthander Kyle Johnston.
Hudson joins a Nationals bullpen that began the day ranked last in the majors with a 5.97 ERA and has been in dire need of setup men for Sean Doolittle all season. Johnston, a righthanded starter at high Class A Potomac, ranked as the Nationals No. 21 prospect.
It was the first of multiple reported moves, as the Nationals are also zeroing in on Mariners relievers Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland.
Daniel Hudson, RHP
A one-time promising young starter, Hudson has bounced back from two Tommy John surgeries and re-invented himself as an effective late-game reliever. He was 6-3, 3.00 with the Blue Jays this year with 48 strikeouts in 48 innings, although he was also a bit wild with 4.3 BB/9. Hudson keeps the ball on the ground with his mid-90s fastball and upper 80s slider. His control of his fastball wavers at times, but it’s an effective pitch when he locates it. Hudson primarily pitched in the seventh and eighth innings this year for the Blue Jays setting up Ken Giles and will slide into a similar role for the Nats. He will be a free agent at the end of the year.
BLUE JAYS ACQUIRE
Kyle Johnston, RHP
A sixth-round pick out of Texas in 2017, Johnston currently starts in the minors but is overwhelmingly seen as a future reliever. Listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds, Johnston’s fastball sits 93-94 mph and touches 96 as a starter. His fastball would tick up to 96-97 mph out of the bullpen in scouts’ estimations, which would pair nicely with his slider that is rapidly-improving and has a chance to become a plus pitch. Johnston’s longstanding below-average command and control further push him to the bullpen. With a potentially plus fastball and plus slider, Johnston has a chance to grow into a seventh or eighth inning reliever.