Originally posted on The Nats Blog old  |  Last updated 1/18/12

When Todd Coffey begins to warm up in the bullpen, most Washington Nationals fans know they will be in for something special.  As the call for Coffey to enter the game is made, he readies himself for the long trip to the mound, but he, unlike any other reliever, makes this trip differently.  Once the doors open to the field, the six foot four, 240-pound reliever charges in a full sprint towards the mound as the crowd goes wild.  The timer starts as he sprints to the mound, and it’s “Coffey Time.”

September 17th, 2011 may have been the last time Washington fans experienced this out of the ordinary tradition in Nationals Park as the 31 year-old fan favorite entered the game against the Florida Marlins.  Last January, around this time, Coffey signed a one-year deal with the Nationals valued at $1.35 million.  As the Nationals third most consistent reliever, despite unlucky injuries, he put up a 5-1 record with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.257 WHIP in 69 games during the 2011 season.  He also recorded 10 holds along with 46 strikeouts while only allowing 4 home runs.

As a free agent this offseason, Coffey has generated some interest from teams looking to improve their bullpen, including the Nationals once again, but as time goes on, it is looking more likely that the Nationals will move on.   MLB.com’s Bill Ladson tweeted recently that the chance Todd Coffey returns to the Nationals is less than 50 percent.  With this news, fans have to wonder who will replace him.  His quirks and personality aside, he was valuable to the team last season.

The first option for the Nationals will be to look within the organization.  The most immediate replacement for most of Coffey’s relief work will be Henry Rodriguez.  Rodriguez in his first full season with the Nationals pitched 65.2 innings with a 3.56 ERA and 70 strikeouts despite notorious control issues attributed partially to his blazing fastball that often hits triple digits on the radar gun.  This issue led to 45 walks (6.2 walks per nine innings) and 14 wild pitches increasing his WHIP to 1.508 for the season.  With some improvements on his control, like he showed at the end of last season, Rodriguez will become the best option for setting up Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen in the upcoming season.

Two more relievers that have a chance to shine this season in Coffey’s absense are Cole Kimball and Ryan Mattheus.  The Nats also acquired reliever Ryan Perry from the Detroit Tigers in the Collin Balester trade this offseason, and he will compete for a bullpen spot as well.  Kimball will most likely be the first to get a chance if Perry keeps consistent with his unimpressive career numbers.  Debuting in 2011, in 12 games he accumulated an impressive 1.93 ERA, but a shoulder injury limited the time he spent in the majors.  His main problem though, like Rodriguez, was a high number of walks.  The number of walks he gave up actually equaled the number of strikeouts he had in 2011, leaving him with a 1.00 SO/BB, surprisingly worse than Rodriguez’s 1.58 SO/BB.  He sported 7.1 BB/9, which was also higher than Rodriguez’s at 6.2.  If he keeps up his production and lowers the number of walks he allows, he can become a magnificent set up man in the future if Henry Rodriguez fails to move into the role or is traded.

Mattheus is next in line to take over a relief position if all else fails.  In 32 innings this season he put up a 2.81 ERA with a solid 1.281 WHIP.  He has high upside, but he also walks quite a few batters.  Mattheus walked 3 more players than he struck out leading to an 0.8 SO/BB, which, once again, is worse than Rodriguez’s.  With a couple of control changes these players have the talent to be better than Coffey, and this year will be their big opportunity to become true major leaguers. 

The other option would be to sign a well-known free agent, but this is unlikely considering the Nationals needs and in-house talent.  Regardless, there are not many relievers left in the free agent pool this late in the offseason.  The best choices available are Chad Qualls, Javier Lopez, and Jason Isringhausen.  These players would only be marginal improvements, if at all, and would cost way more than testing the young relievers in the organization.  Trading is probably not an option because GM Mike Rizzo does not want to get rid of valuable prospects for something that is a not a necessity at the moment.

Replacing Coffey’s production may not be hard for the Nationals with their depth but replacing the fanfare and excitement that Coffey brought to the team will be difficult to replicate.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker