Nationals Bullpen Makeover Continues With Addition Of Hunter Strickland
One of the biggest moments in Nationals history was when Bryce Harper homered off of Hunter Strickland during the 2014 NLDS. That home run helped the Nationals come-from-behind to beat the Giants in Game 1, although San Francisco eventually rallied to win the series. Now the pitcher who gave up that home run is coming to D.C., as the Nationals added Strickland to a bullpen that will bear very little resemblance in August to the one that regularly melted down in April and May.
Aaron Fletcher, LHP
After an impressive couple of seasons in Houston’s bullpen, Fletcher moved to the rotation as a college senior and showed he could start as well, going 7-3, 2.19. That was enough to entice the Nationals to sign him as a 14th-rounder in 2018. Fletcher has moved quickly through the Nationals’ system, reaching Double-A just 13 months after he initially signed. Fletcher is a reliever without a true plus pitch, but he has deceptive, funky delivery and he has plus control to fill the zone with an average fastball, curve and changeup. Fletcher has shown that he can get righthanded hitters out as well as lefties and so far few batters have proven capable of squaring him up. His lack of premium velocity and/or a wipeout secondary pitch may limit his potential, but it’s easy to find evaluators who believe he has a solid future as a useful lower-leverage reliever. With three pitches he can locate, Seattle also could look at moving Fletcher back into a starting role.
Hunter Strickland, RHP
Strickland has missed almost the entire season with a strained lat muscle. He came off the 60-day IL just in time to prove he was healthy enough to be traded. Strickland showed his mid-90s fastball in his very brief time with the Mariners. Currently on a one-year, $1.3 million deal, Strickland will be arbitration eligible after the season.