The Nationals sign a deal for reliever Alex Colome to the minors


When the Washington Nationals remade their Bulls at the 2019 trade deadline, they were interested in right reliever Alex Colomé, who was then a closer to the Chicago White Sox. And while discussions with the White Sox eventually fizzled out, Colome may finally be competing for the national team after signing a minor league contract with the club on Friday.

The deal comes with a spring training invitational and does not guarantee he will make the Opening Day roster. Cullum, 34, is definitely not the pitcher he was three and a half years ago. Last season, in 47 innings with the Colorado Rockies, he pitched often and finished with a 5.74 ERA. His strike rate (14.9 percent) was its lowest since becoming a full-time reliever.

In the past, General Manager Mike Rizzo wanted to add Colomé for a title push. These circumstances can be considered directly opposite.

But if Colomey is solid in February and March, Washington could gain an experienced arm for little cost. With Tanner Rainey still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Andres Machado off the 40-man roster after being named for assignment this month, there’s room to stick him in the Nationals game.

Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Hunter Harvey, Erasmo Ramirez and Thad Ward should all have solid points. Then? Veterans like Colomé and Sean Doolittle have a chance to pull a chair, especially since some of the younger pitchers — Mason Thompson, Victor Arano and Jordan Weems — have options left, meaning they can move between the majors and the minors throughout 2023 without going on waivers. Corey Abbott and Paulo Espino could also be in the mix as multi-role relievers.

At his best, Colum, a native of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, was closer to the Tampa Bay Rays. He was an All-Star in 2016 and leads the majors with 47 saves a year later. During the pandemic-shortened season, he worked 22 minutes for the White Sox and struck out only two runs. With the Minnesota Twins in 2021, Colome had disaster in April before recovering for an average of a year. Then with the Rockies his numbers declined, though the height and dimensions at Coors Field seemed to play a limited part in that.

coulomb Divide the house in 2022: 106 facing hitter, .299 batting average, .349 on-base percentage, .526 slugging percentage (.875 OPS)

And his way splits: 109 hitters faced, .301 batting average, 0.389 on-base percentage, 441 slugging percentage (.830 OPS)

Throwing to Colorado, Colomy threw his power 84 percent of the time, According to FanGraphs. This was 14 percentage points higher than his highest average for the entire season. The four-seam fastball, the second and only one, has been crushed by opponents by a 1.059 percentage point.

This past spring, the Nationals used right-heavy (Wanderer Suero, Will Harris) as an excuse for not having a lot of lefty relievers, saying they like how their cutters work inside on left-handed batters. And while that always seems like a half-baked explanation for a roster flaw, manager Dave Martinez may soon be recruiting Colomey to the cause. With less than three weeks to go as pitchers and catchers report, Matt Cronin, 25, and Jose Ferrer, 22, are the only left-handers in the 40. Neither has appeared in the majors.

Another note on Colomé: He averaged 23.6 seconds between pitches last year, tying him for 11. Slowest pace among qualified shooters. This tempo meter from Statcast measures the time that elapses between the sound of one note and the next. However, Major League Baseball’s new 15-second pitch clock will begin as soon as the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher and ends as soon as he initiates his delivery.

Colome’s average ‘parabolic timer’ cadence was 17.6 seconds in 2022. So if he makes it to the national team, he’ll have more adaptation to do.

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