Washington's starting pitchers and lineup draw a notable amount of attention but the club is not in a position to overlook its bullpen. The Nationals have consistently been atop the National League East standings, and according to James Wagner of The Washington Post, the organization is in pursuit of bullpen depth.
Although the front end of the Nationals' rotation has had a fair amount of success, their bullpen ranks 21st in baseball with a collective 3.67 ERA. Washington has proven it is open to making moves and did so by acquiring David Carpenter from the Braves to add another right-handed relief option. But Aaron Barrett (5.06 ERA, 2.21 FIP) was placed on the disabled list Friday with a biceps injury, and even after adding Carpenter, the Nationals want additional relievers to utilize late in games.
While trading for relief help remains an option, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told Wagner he would prefer to upgrade the bullpen using internal candidates. Sammy Solis, Blake Treinen, Matt Grace, and Felipe Rivero are all possibilities, however Grace has settled in Triple-A after having trouble throwing strikes with the Nationals and Solis is pitching in Double-A after being plagued by shoulder inflammation.
Throughout spring training, the Nationals were confident their bullpen prospects would complement Tanner Roark, Matt Thornton, Casey Janssen, and Craig Stammen well. But Stammen is out for the season and Janssen was on the disabled list for the first two months of the season with a shoulder injury. Treinen (4.45 ERA in 32.1 innings) has struggled at times, Barrett was used too often, and Roark was slotted into the rotation when Doug Fister was on the disabled list.
The Nationals only used 12 pitchers out of their bullpen last season but have already used 16 to this point in 2015. While the organization may explore internal candidates initially, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi reported Washington is interested in Aroldis Chapman. Chapman has had success with the Reds and would likely complement Drew Storen well in the back of the bullpen. If Chapman is too expensive of a possibility, the Nationals can consider adding Tyler Clippard for his second stint in Washington.
Washington may ultimately utilize its internal relievers but a trade for depth could remain a possibility. Despite the club's success, it is still in pursuit of bullpen upgrades.