C.J. Nitkowski may soon find himself back in the majors for the first time since 2005.
We mentioned about a month ago that Nitkowski had signed a minor league contract with the Mets. It was essentially a last-ditch effort to keep his career alive. And boy has he taken advantage of the opportunity. Now using a sidearm delivery, the 39-year-old southpaw has 13 strikeouts over 10 1/3 scoreless innings between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo.
According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, Nitkowski’s strong performance now has him “on the radar” for a call-up when rosters expand in September.
“He is certainly in the conversation,” a team official told Martino. “If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll be up.”
The Mets obviously don’t have a lot going for them at this point of the season, but stories like this are what September call-ups are all about. Heck, given the state of the team’s bullpen, they could probably use the guy right now.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.