The Washington Nationals pulled off a trade at the end of last season, one that that envisioned would take steps in the franchise remaking, rejuvenating, and rebuilding the bullpen. The move was a trade to acquire reliever Brian Bruney from the New York Yankees. When acquired, there was no formal definition for his role. All the Nats knew was, he had to be an improvement over last year. Bruney could battle for the closer, battle for setup, or provide middle relief.
Visions are nice. Visions are not always real.
Tonight, once again, Bruney came in relief and left the game battered. He pitched 1 inning, allowing 2 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs. Of his 22 pitches, only 10 were for strikes. For the season, Bruney has pitched in 19 games and appeared in 17.2 innings. In those 17. 2 innings, he has allowed 21 hist and 20 walks to just 17 strikeouts. His ERA is an awful 7.64. Last year, Bruney pitched in 44 games and walked 23 batters. This year, Bruney has pitched in 19 games and already walked 20 batters.
The question is, how long do the Nationals await for this 'improvement' to the bullpen? Is it time to give up on Bruney?
The Nationals have options. First and foremost, put the Drew Storen stuff away. You will likely not see Storen until June, contractual reasons. So what else is down in the system that can help? Here a few I can think of . . .
Andrew Kown. Kown has pitched in 8 games at AAA and started in 6 of them. He was a reliever for most of 2009. This season at AAA, Kown is 1-2 with a 2.58 ERA. In 35.2 innings, he has allowed 38 hits and 8 walks and has struck out 21.
Josh Wilkie. Wilkie has appeared in 12 games in the Syracuse bullpen and has posted a 2-2 record with a 1.96 ERA. In 18.1 innings, Wilkie has allowed 11 hits, 7 walks andstruck out 12. Wilkie also pitched in the Arizona Fall League, an indication of his possible standing within the franchise.
Atahulapha Severino. You may have saw a little of Severino in Washington at the end of last season. Severino is pitching in Syracuse and has appeared in 14 games. He is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA.
Joel Peralta. Peralta is Syracuse's closer. In 13 games, he is 1-0 with 8 saves and an impressive 1.13 ERA. In 16 innings, Peralta has record 20 strike outs.
Erik Arnesen. Arnesen is in AA Harrisburg. This kid has been kicking some butt down in AA ball and I for the life of me can not understand why he is not in AAA ball. Arnesen has appeared in 11 games and started 3 of them. He is 1-2 with a 2.43 ERA. In 29.2 innings, he has allowed 6 walks to 27 strikeouts. Last year in Potomac and Harrisburg, Arnesen was one of the system's best on the mound posting a 12-7 record with a 3.53 ERA. He appeared in 155.2 innings and struck out 116 to 33 walks.
Arnesen is of course an outside shot, but could the Nationals be getting better production at this point from Wilkie, Severino, or Peralta? Again, how long do the Nationals give Bruney?