The Nationals, owners of the very worst bullpen ERA in all of baseball, made a move today to fortify their relief pitching, snagging a couple arms from Oakland’s not-actually-all-that-much-better bullpen:
Blake Treinen is young and throws hard, and has been an important part of Washington’s bullpen since 2014, but his numbers in 2017 are real rough: 5.73 ERA, 1.619 WHIP, and -0.3 WAR in 37 innings as one of Washington’s most-used relievers. He bombed spectacularly as Washington’s closer this season, and has been kicking around and generally failing in various other relief roles in the time since. The inclusions of Neuse and Luzardo—Washington’s second- and third-round picks in the 2016 draft—are what got them a couple of by-God professional-grade relievers.
Madson’s had a good season in Oakland, posting a 2.04 ERA and .788 WHIP in 39 innings of work as a member of a bullpen that has otherwise been very nearly as awful as Washington’s. Doolittle gives the Nats a lefty reliever who is neither the scattershot Enny Romero, nor the junk-balling Oliver Perez. Dolittle hasn’t given up a hit to a left-handed batter in 2017, per ESPN.
Washington’s offense is terrifying—even with prolonged injuries shelving Jayson Werth and Adam Eaton, the Nats are second in MLB to the Astros in hits, runs, and total bases, and they put up another 14 runs today in a wipeout of the Reds—but their bullpen has been a source of misery for years, and never more than in 2017. It has been GM Mike Rizzo’s routine to shop for veteran bullpen arms mid-season, adding guys like Jonathan Papelbon and Mark Melancon in recent mid-summer deals, but none of those moves have thus far taken the Nats anywhere close to the promised land. Maybe this is finally the year (it’s not).