Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Nats Falter During Late Innings In Loss To Mets

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Jul 21, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Tanner Roark (57) is removed from the game by manager Matt Williams (9) during the ninth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Barrett And Roark Lead Nats Bullpen Struggles

While Casey Janssen and Drew Storen have been a good combination in the final two innings, the Nationals are still trying to find the right formula for their middle relief, which has been inconsistent this season. In the seventh inning, with runners at second and third and out, Matt Williams decided to go to Aaron Barrett to face Eric Campbell, who was pinch-hitting for deGrom (who was at 82 pitches at the time).

This season, Campbell has hit .179 in 54 games, but Barrett made a mistake with a slider and Campbell made him pay for it. He hit a base hit to right that scored Flores and Nieuwenhuis to give the Mets back the lead, 3-2. Barrett would stay in to get Juan Lagares to groundout, but Williams would pull him for the lefty, Felipe Rivero, to face Granderson.

The one bright spot for the bullpen last night was Rivero. In 1.1 innings, he gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out one. The 24-year-old left-hander has not given up a run in his last seven appearances and has become one of the more reliable options in the Nats bullpen.

Then, in the ninth, Tanner Roark entered the game to try to keep the deficit at one. However, he wasn’t helped by his defense. Kevin Plawecki led off the inning with a single, but was able to go all the way to third thanks to a throwing error by Matt den Dekker in left field. From there, Roark’s night would unravel.

After a walk by Michael Cuddyer and a groundout by Lagares, Roark gave up three straight RBI singles to Granderson, Tejada, and Murphy to put the Mets ahead 6-2. Roark only got one batter out, gave up four runs on four hits, walked one, and struck out one. It’s been a back-and-forth season for the 28-year-old as he has been shuffled from the rotation to the bullpen and he has started to lose some of his effectiveness that he had for most of last season.

With Roark’s struggles, the Nationals were able to use Abel De Los Santos as the 22-year-old right-hander made his Major League debut after being called up Monday afternoon for Blake Treinen. While he walked Lucas Duda and gave up a RBI groundout to Flores, he did record his first strikeout when he got John Mayberry Jr. to miss a 78 mph curveball to end the inning.

With the trade deadline a little over a week away, one of the main needs the Nats will look to address is the bullpen, especially with David Carpenter on the disabled list. The question is will the Nats make a big splash or go with a small depth move to give Matt Williams more options?

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