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High-octane stuff has Glover in closer mix

March 21, 2017

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Each of right-hander Koda Glover's last five Grapefruit League appearances have come in the ninth inning. The ninth innings of spring games normally mean very little, as most teams have removed the majority of their starters and the at-bats normally belong to players called up

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Each of right-hander Koda Glover's last five Grapefruit League appearances have come in the ninth inning. The ninth innings of spring games normally mean very little, as most teams have removed the majority of their starters and the at-bats normally belong to players called up from Minor League camp for the day.
Last spring, however, then-Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon routinely pitched the ninth. With the Nationals trying to determine who will begin the 2017 season as their closer, it's no coincidence that Glover continues to get the ball in that situation.
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From the moment Glover arrived in the Majors last season after skyrocketing through the Minor Leagues, the Nats touted him as a player with the arsenal and makeup of a future closer. But Glover, the team's No. 7 overall prospect who turns 24 in April, is being considered as an option at closer right now.
"He has the stuff to eventually be there," manager Dusty Baker said. "We just have to decide: Is he ready or not now?"
"The thing you wish is that he was facing more of the guys he's going to face in the [regular] season, because by then all the big boys are out of the game."
That, of course, is the Nationals' own doing for pitching him so late in the games, although Baker hinted that Glover could get more innings against regulars soon.
Still, Glover has had perhaps the most impressive showing of any pitcher on the roster this spring. He has struck out 11 batters in just eight innings and began the day Monday with more strikeouts than anyone on the team in Grapefruit League action besides Stephen Strasburg.
"We like some Koda," Baker said. "Big time."
That's not to say Koda is a foregone conclusion. Right-handers Shawn Kelley and Blake Treinen entered camp as the two presumptive favorites to land the closer job, although the Nats have had their reservations about both pitchers. Baker said the Nats will have a meeting soon to discuss their options, and he still plans to name someone before Opening Day.
"We haven't really discussed it at any length, who it is yet," Baker said. "We'll have a meeting. I believe in giving everybody a vote, because that's what good organizations do. You take all the brains in the room, you get their opinions."
Worth noting
• Nats right-hander A.J. Cole is dealing with some "tenderness," according to Baker, who did not specify where, which is why they skipped his turn this time through the rotation. The injury is not considered serious, but the Nationals wanted to proceed with caution.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.