Player Preview: Trevor Gott
The Nationals got Gott, Trevor Gott that is, this last offseason in exchange for infielder without a position Yunel Escobar. If you'll remember Escobar was acquired for Tyler Clippard, who was acquired for Jonathan Albaladejo who was signed as a free agent in 2007. So the right handed reliever's Nationals ancestry runs deep.
Gott was acquired as a part of the Great Middle Reliever Run of Ought Fifteen, along with Oliver Perez, Shawn Kelley and Yusmeiro Petit. Just 23 years old he represents the most promise of any of the aforementioned relievers. Last season was Gott's first in the majors with the Angels and he pitched 47.2 innings in 48 appearances to the tune of a 79 ERA- and 96 FIP-, a great first season for a young reliever.
Not everything is roses with Gott though. To start, despite a 96.1 mile per hour fastball and a strikeout rate of 9.5 K/9 in three minor league seasons, he only had a 5.1 K/9 in the majors. And among Nationals relievers last season with at least 20 innings pitched, Gott's strand rate of 74.3 percent would have been the second highest behind Matt Thornton and just ahead of Tanner Roark. However, his win probability added of 0.36 and 1.62 RE24 suggest a pitcher who can be better than the sum of his parts. A quality Nationals relievers have lacked in recent seasons.
Overall, Gott profiles as a solid middle reliever who is under team control through 2021 with the chance at being something more. The one problem is that as the bullpen is currently arranged, the Nats will be asking him for much more than that in 2016. With Jonathan Papelbon at the back of the bullpen and Drew Storen in Toronto the Nationals have no other elite relievers to fill setup man roles for the seventh and eighth innings.
Shawn Kelley figures to take over the eighth inning role, but that leaves the dreaded seventh inning and the guy who fills in for Kelley when he rests role wide open. The likely competitors are Rivero, Gott and Treinen. All three are flamethrowers, but all three also have some significant flaws. Treinen's extreme splits last season (he allowed a .394 to lefties) likely rule him out leaving it down to the lefty Rivero and Gott, who will likely tag team to fill the role. That's a risky combination to be relying upon in such a critical role, just look to last season to see how poorly it can work out.
If the Nationals are to take revenge on the Mets in 2016 and make it back to the playoffs they'll need Gott (and Rivero and Treinen for that matter) to take a big step forward. And I don't think that's entire undoable. A great first step would be bringing his strikeout rate back to minor league levels. That should in turn help bring up the strand rate, as he'll see less balls hit in play on him. Like I said, not entirely undoable.