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Summoned from Class AA Harrisburg on Tuesday as part of the Nationals' bullpen makeover, Krol saw his first action last night when he entered for the top of the sixth inning of what was at that point a 7-1 ballgame. The stakes might not have been terribly high, given the score, but Krol didn't know the difference. This was as significant an inning as he had pitched in his life.
"Butterflies were stirring," the 22-year-old left-hander said. "I was just running [in from the bullpen] not thinking about anything, really. Kinda going out there and just doing my job. I wasn't really thinking about the situation or the big stage. I was just trying to focus and do my job."
It took a couple of minutes for Krol to get his feet wet; he served up a leadoff double to Omar Quintanilla and then advanced him to third base on a wild pitch. But then he settled in and showed everyone why the Nationals were so high on him in the first place, striking out Daniel Maurpy, David Wright and Lucas Duda in succession.
Krol relied mostly on a fastball that consistently sat in the mid-90s, and though he had some mechanical issues with his curveball, that has been an important pitch for him this season as he's made a name for himself out of the bullpen.
The suburban Chicago native had a rooting section in the stands, including his parents, who happened to be in Harrisburg with him at the time of his promotion and made the short drive with him to Washington to witness his MLB debut.
So, who is Ian Krol, and how did he come to pitch at Nationals Park last night? A seventh-round pick of the Athletics in 2009, he had success as a starter in the low minors but stalled last season at high-Class A and Class AA after being suspended by the organization for a tweet that included a homophobic slur.
When the Nationals pulled off the three-team, Michael Morse trade with the Mariners and A's over the winter, they immediately received pitchers A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen from Oakland, with another player to be named to the deal later. Krol turned out to be that player, officially acquired at the end of spring training.
He reported to Harrisburg, converted to a reliever and has had nothing but success since, posting an 0.69 ERA, an 0.808 WHIP and 29 strikeouts in 26 innings of work.
And now he's got a big-league appearance under his belt, a very impressive one at that.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet, to be honest with you," he said. "I'm still on cloud nine. Hopefully later when I get into bed and go to sleep, it'll all settle down and be done with it and the nerves will go away. We'll see."