Washington wasn’t exactly hurting for bullpen depth, but with so many veteran relievers still looking for homes and willing to sign cheaply Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the Nationals have signed Chad Durbin to a minor-league deal.
Durbin spent last season in Cleveland and struggled, posting a 5.53 ERA while serving up 12 homers in 68 innings. However, his 59/26 K/BB ratio was still decent and prior to last year he pitched pretty well for the Phillies from 2008-2010.
Drew Storen is the Nationals’ closer and last week they signed Brad Lidge to join Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett as setup men, so Durbin will have to compete with Henry Rodriguez and Ryan Perry for a middle relief role in spring training.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.