The biggest concern for the Nationals in 2020 will be their bullpen. Their lineup will be solid and they still have that three-headed rotation which won them a World Series. For a while the bullpen has been a concern that somehow they masked last season as the unit came together in October.
Fernando Abad’s Second Stint With the Washington Nationals
Fernando Abad’s been a veteran reliever that has pitched for the Astros, Athletics, Red Sox, Giants, Twins, and even the Nationals! Abad, in his detour with the Nationals, had a 3.35 ERA and 3.50 SIERA in 37.2 innings in 2013. He may not have been a superstar since his stint after that, but he still has potential as a reliever in a bullpen that needs arms.
Quality Groundball Machine
Fernando Abad went under the radar this off-season for the Nationals, but don’t be fooled. In his last two seasons (2019 and 2017) he had a relatively solid stat-line for a guy who’s merely a Non-Roster Invite in the 60-man player pool. He also tends to be a good ground ball machine, which is extremely helpful for the Nationals.
His SIERA and xFIP indicate that Abad over performed his ERA, which is fine, but I think that SIERA is the more accurate measure for what to expect, which is a high-3.00 to low-4.00 ERA type of guy. Abad’s ERA and SIERA and xFIP are all also lower than the SIERA and xFIP of the Nationals’ bullpen. The most impressive part is? He gives up soft/bad contact in a league where hitters are at their best.
Hitters Have ‘Abad’ Time Making Good Contact
While Hard Hit% and Exit Velocity in 2019 would tell you that he gives up hard contact, hard contact isn’t always quality contact. xwOBA is a stat that can determine the quality of contact and the average hitters’ value against a pitcher. Fernando Abad had a .237 xwOBA against in 2019 and a .293 xwOBA against in 2017. Those are both considerably better than the .318 xwOBA average in the MLB.
He also has a .305 xSLG in 2019 and .354 xSLG in 2017 against, which is better than the MLB average. Avoiding quality contact is how Fernando Abad can get outs for the Washington Nationals, and by doing so he makes that bullpen even better.
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