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Roster review: Felipe Rivero

Nov 2, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

Age on Opening Day 2016: 24

How acquired: Traded with C Jose Lobaton and OF Drew Vettleson from Tampa Bay for RHP Nate Karns, Feb. 2014

MLB service time: 161 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $507,500

Contract status: Under team control in 2016, likely Super-2 arbitration-eligible in 2018, free agent in 2022

2015 stats: 49 G, 48.1 IP, 35 H, 15 R, 15 ER, 2 HR, 11 BB, 43 K, 0.952 WHIP, 2 SV, 1 BS, 2-1, 2.79 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 1.2 WAR

Quotable: “This year has been kind of a blessing for me. I got my first win and my first save in the same year. I wasn’t expecting that.” — Felipe Rivero

2015 analysis: An afterthought in spring training, Felipe Rivero caught his big break after the Nationals decided to covert him into a reliever. A starter throughout his minor-league career, the left-hander embraced the change of roles, recognizing it could help him reach Washington faster. Which is exactly what happened.

With the Nationals bullpen in shambles in April, Rivero earned a quick promotion. He wound up requiring a DL stint while recovering from dangerous bleeding in his gastrointestinal system, but once healthy he took off.

Initially used as a long man, Rivero over time developed into more of a 1-inning setup man. That allowed him to reach back and throw everything he had in short bursts, including a 99-mph fastball by season’s end. He impressed the Nationals’ coaching staff and front office, even earning a couple of saves during the final week, and positioning himself to hold a significant role in next year’s bullpen.

2016 outlook: The Nationals have all kinds of relief questions heading into next season, but Rivero isn’t one of them. He was a revelation, a left-hander with a power arm and poise when summoned to pitch in big spots late in games.

Rivero certainly has the arsenal and moxie to suggest he could be an MLB closer at some point. For now, the Nationals will probably look at him more in a setup role, happy to have a lefty who can retire batters from both sides of the plate (lefties hit .198 off him, righties hit .200).

  1. jfmii - Nov 2, 2015 at 8:08 AM

    Good luck putting together a BP, Mr. Rizzo.

    • veejh - Nov 2, 2015 at 9:16 AM

      Yes. After seeing what happened to the Mets last night, we really need to get our BP together. Granted, the Mets had lots of holes in their team, but their BP is downright awful.

      It made me happy to see Harvey come in for the 9th and blow the lead. Very happy. Collins let the fans manage the game for him. That’s a no-no.

      • mwgchess - Nov 2, 2015 at 10:30 AM

        Harvey was told he was going out of the game, but he insisted in going out. I think he should have been pulled after the first base runner reached.

      • veejh - Nov 2, 2015 at 10:37 AM

        You don’t think the fans chanting, “Harvey, Harvey, Harvey!” had anything to do with it?

      • sec112 - Nov 2, 2015 at 1:48 PM

        I wasn’t able to get here early this AM and now that I finally did, I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the parallel to last year’s game 2 and the decision to bring in Storen or leave in Zimmerman. It strikes me that this was almost exactly the same situation (pitcher dominates through 8, walks the first batter in the 9th, now what?), and Collins went the other way (the way many have argued Matt Williams should have gone). Didn’t turn out well – which doesn’t mean that Matt Williams made the right call, or that Collins made the wrong one. But I bet that a close examination of posters would find a lot of people taking both sides of this one . . .

      • natsred4dndc - Nov 2, 2015 at 2:20 PM

        Hey Sec112, I posted a long analysis of exactly that on the Game 5 page.
        And the scary part is, it was 2 minutes before your post…

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 2, 2015 at 4:41 PM

        Why is it always about what somebody did wrong, or sucked at? Isn’t it just possible that Kansas City is a good team?

    • ArVAFan - Nov 2, 2015 at 9:54 AM

      Well, I don’t think there’s any question that Rivero should be a part of that bullpen. There are a lot of other questions hanging out there, but this isn’t one of them. Which is nice, for a change.

  2. natsguy - Nov 2, 2015 at 8:46 AM

    At least now the Hot Stove League can officially start.

  3. janebeard - Nov 2, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    I agree that the Mets BP was a problem for them. But so was the way the Royals never let up. They played small ball while the Mets relied on the long ball. They were relentless. We need us some of that. And team chemistry is how you get it.

    On Felipe — a truly solid piece of our future, no doubt.

  4. Doc - Nov 2, 2015 at 10:37 AM

    So much for the Prospects listing on the Nats’ web site. Neither Joe Cool, nor Felipe The Great were standout high picks. Livo had Rivero on his list from ST on.

    A bullpen is what KC had in the playoffs. Interesting about Wade Davis, he had a journey man’s starter career until the last season and a half.

    • virginiascopist - Nov 2, 2015 at 2:07 PM

      IIRC, Livo was singing Rivero’s praises as soon as Rivero was traded to us and arrived in spring training the previous year, 2013. Quite an eye for talent. I wonder who else is on his radar.

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Nov 2, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    I like Rivero… a whole lot. Thought there times in the season that he was over worked. It seemed there would be weeks where he was either warming or going into games every day. Thought that added to his ineffectiveness in the later months.

    Not ready to deem him closer yet but definitely one of (maybe the only) the brightest spot on the BP.

  6. senators5 - Nov 2, 2015 at 12:41 PM

    If handled correctly, I believe FR can be the real deal now and down the road. Having BB as the mgr. should be a great help to this kid and all of the young arms down on the farm, especially the young flame thrower who will probably be up sooner than later. Age while a consideration, is secondary to strength and stamina and LG seems to have both. Still wishing we could get JZ back but that probably won’t happened.

    • TimDz - Nov 2, 2015 at 1:52 PM

      Per MLBTraderumors, JZ is looking at about 6/126….

      Would the Front office go there? He will definitely get a QO….but I don’t think the Nats will offer such a deal to him….

      • jd - Nov 2, 2015 at 3:44 PM

        based on last year’s performance he is not worth that kind of money and it’s for too many years.

  7. jd - Nov 2, 2015 at 1:41 PM

    Isn’t id funny that Terry Collins is getting killed for leaving Harvey in and Matt Williams was killed for taking Jordan Zimmermann out in almost identical situations with the games on the line? – I guess it’s easy to have 20/20 vision in hindsight.

    Famiilia blew 3 games in the world series. I guess the Mets will now sign a veteran closer and demote Famillia. – just kidding.

    • natsred4dndc - Nov 2, 2015 at 2:25 PM

      But this armchair managing thing is just so easy: criticize decisions that have bad results, laud decisions that have good results, and claim that you knew what was going to happen because the answer was just so clear.

      I do know of a veteran closer that can had for a song. Just take him… far, far away.

    • trfwans - Nov 2, 2015 at 2:29 PM

      No comparison whatsoever between the MW/JZ decision and the Collins/Harvey decision. Leaving a starter in who needs to do nothing more than get the final out with a runner on first is a far different thing than bringing a starter back out for the ninth inning of a game instead of going to the closer to finish it out. Indeed, in the history of the MLB playoffs there must be countless instances of managers going to the closer after the starter pitches eight innings. But MW yanking JZ was the first time in MLB playoff history that a starter was pulled one out short of a complete game. That tells you all you need to know about how dumb MW’s decision was.

      • jd - Nov 2, 2015 at 3:43 PM


        You realize that statistically based on performance throughout the year Storen had a better chance to get the last out than JZim (JZim’s record the 3rd and 4th time through the lineups is dramatically worse than the 1st and 2nd time through the lineup and the hitter he walked crushed a foul ball down the line that could easily have been a home run). so it wasn’t a bad move at all just a move that backfired. Similarly Familia had a better chance to get the outs in the 9th inning last night than Harvey so Collins made the wrong move.

        The point is that fans are fickle and they’l celebrate the moves only if they work. As a point of clarification, I think MW is a terrible manager and has made the wrong bullpen moves on many occasions, it just so happens that the situation you are referring to was not one of them.

      • nats106 - Nov 2, 2015 at 4:50 PM

        I agree with your comments. Plus there was a difference in pitch counts- Jordan Zimmermann was at 100 after 8 and 2/3 innings. Harvey was at 107 after 8 (I might be off by one or two). Factor in time from surgeries, etc I think the difference is more significant than people think.

      • nats106 - Nov 2, 2015 at 4:51 PM

        Sorry to clarify who I agree with, I agree with trfwans

  8. unkyd59 - Nov 2, 2015 at 4:07 PM

    Janssen, McLouth options declined.

  9. langleyclub - Nov 2, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    Always thought that the MW decision to pull Jordan Zimmerman for Storen was classic Monday morning QBing. Jordan was clearly tiring (Panik hit a HR foul by a few feet before he walked); Jordan was starting to leave his pitches up, and Storen had been lights out heading into the playoffs. Had Storen gotten the last out; no one would’ve questioned the move, but in hindsight, MW was killed for it, even though it made sense.

    They are obvious parallels to the Terry Collins decision with Harvey last night (Jon Smoltz even mentioned the parallels today). Managing is tough, and the results are random. Everyone is toasting Ned Yost today; he was one of the most-vilified managers in baseball heading into September 2014. Sometimes, decisions work; sometimes they don’t. Managers just try to manage the probabilities, and brining in Storen made a win more likely; just didn’t work out.

    With all that said, I think Bud Black will be a major upgrade in the dugout.

    • jd - Nov 2, 2015 at 4:18 PM


      You nailed it. I think that narrative won’t go away despite the fact that there is ample proof that JZim was more likely to give away the lead than Storen. I think yesterday’s Mets decision is simply an opportunity to point out that making either decision does not guarantee success.\

      I think this was one time MW made a good decision which happen to backfire. He has made many curious decisions which can be criticized legitimately as long as you don’t base the criticism stricly based on the outcome.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 2, 2015 at 4:43 PM

        Or, again, it could be that Posey and Panda are just good at baseball. It happens.

    • npb99 - Nov 2, 2015 at 11:21 PM

      I’m actually even more mad at our pathetic hitters who couldn’t score in any of the 9 extra innings in that game. That was as big a choke job as Storen’s. (Harper and Rendon excused from that diatribe as they did well at other times in the post-season).

  10. rgsie - Nov 2, 2015 at 4:37 PM

    Keep Him!!!!!

  11. natsred4dndc - Nov 2, 2015 at 11:48 PM

    Rivero has been great in certain situations, but downright frightening in others. I continue to be worried that he is a disaster waiting to happen when pitching out of the stretch.
    With no baserunners on: 123 plate appearances against, allowing 18H and 5BB; that’s a 0.69 WHIP; his quadruple slash line against is a dominating.154/.195/.248/.443
    With any runner(s) on, it goes from dominating to dominated: 66PA; 17H; 6BB; 1.60 WHIP; .288/.348/.390/.738
    With RISP, it’s even a little worse yet: 45PA; 11H; 5BB; 1.78 WHIP; .282/.356/.436/.791
    Unfortunately, right now he is another hard throwing “clean inning only” guy, and that’s not acceptable in your relief ace.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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