One of the main problems over the past week or so for the Washington Nationals has been their bullpen. Even though Max Scherzer did not have his best stuff over six innings in last night’s loss to the Blue Jays, it was the bullpen that put the game somewhat out of reach. Blake Treinen loaded the bases with no out in the seventh and proceeded to give up three earned runs en route to a 7-3 loss.
Last night’s bullpen woes, added on to the bad weekend the Nats had in Cincinnati, do not bring much progress for a bullpen that is seen as the weakest aspect of this team. Plus, Felipe Rivero, who was back with the Nats last night when he was called up for Matt Grace, did strike out the side in the eighth. However, he walked the opposing relief pitcher, Liam Hendriks, during the inning.
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Lost in the shuffle last night was Casey Janssen. The Nats reliever did give up a hit in the ninth inning, but kept the Blue Jays off the board. With the exception of one bad game in Cincinnati, Janssen has not given up a run in four of five appearances this season.
Chapman has been very good for the Reds this season. He has a 1.61 ERA in 23 games, has converted all nine chances, and has 38 strikeouts in 22 chances. Chapman has one year left on his deal and the 27-year-old will be a free agent after the 2016 season.
While the idea of having a flamethrower like Chapman in the bullpen is intriguing, I think fans need to be patient with Janssen. Don’t be too quick to say after one bad game in Cincinnati that he can’t be the eighth inning guy. Right now, he is the best they have when you look at the inconsistent performances from Treinen and Aaron Barrett.
General Manager Mike Rizzo went out and got Janssen this winter to be the bridge to Drew Storen because of his eighth inning experience with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Nats do need bullpen help, but they could go after another reliever that won’t cost as much for their farm system.
It is a championship or bust type of season, but patience still remains key for looking at this team long term. Plus, depending on how long Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister are out, who knows if starting pitching might be a need? Does the team go after a left fielder depending on if Jayson Werth has a setback?
When you look at this bullpen, there is no question that it’s the weak point of the team at the moment (3.67 bullpen ERA). However, it is only June and you saw a few weeks ago that the bullpen collectively was getting it done. I know Matt Williams likes to mix-and-match in the bullpen, but it might be time to let Janssen get his crack at the eighth to evaluate whether adding a significant bullpen piece is needed between now and July 31.