There’s a new arm in the Nationals’ bullpen, and it’s a veteran who took a long road back to the majors…
Sean Nolin, 31, made eight appearances, seven of them starts, for the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland A’s in 2013-15, but Tommy John surgery kept him off the mound in 2016-17. He got a shot in the Colorado Rockies’ organization in 2018, pitched in the Chicago White Sox and in the Seattle Mariners’ systems in 2019, and played independent ball on Long Island, then he went to Japan in 2020, where he pitched for the Seibu Lions.
Signed to a minor league deal by Washington this past March, Nolin pitched at High-A East Wilmington and Triple-A East Rochester before he got the call back to the majors before a sort-of-doubleheader with the New York Mets in Citi Field on Wednesday.
Nolin had a 3.72 ERA in 12 games, nine starts, and 48 1⁄3 IP in the Nationals’ system, walking 15 and striking out 54, and he got the call as the club sent struggling lefty Sam Clay down to Triple-A.
”We brought Sean Nolin up, purchased his contract,” manager Davey Martinez explained in his pregame Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday.
“He just gives us a little bit more length, left-handed pitcher. With the two games today we felt like we needed to get somebody that could give us length, so Sean’s here, he has been pitching well. He’s just got a four-pitch mix, he’s done well in Triple-A.”
Nolin was coming off six scoreless innings at Triple-A back on August 5th, and Martinez told the lefty to be ready for anything now that he was up in the majors.
“I talked to him and I told him, I said, ‘Hey, just be ready for any possible scenario, whether it’s the first game or the second game,’” Martinez said.
“Right now we’re still concerned about the first game, we’ve still got eight innings to play.
“As we know, [Paolo] Espino [who started on Tuesday] is out for the first game, so we needed some length.”
Martinez said most of what he’s seen from the lefty he’s seen on video, but he was eager to get a live look at Nolin.
“I saw him a lot on video and the way he’s pitching, like I said, he’s got a good four-[pitch] mix of pitches. He surprised me a lot. They told me he didn’t throw very hard, but he throws anywhere from 91-93, sometimes can top out at 94, but he has a good mix of pitches. He throws curveballs, sliders, cutters, changeups, so I’m interested to see him.
“He’s pitched in the big leagues before, it’s been a while, but he’s worked diligently to get back up here and it’s something that I know I’m proud of that he stuck with it and he’s back in the big leagues now.”