New Look Bullpen Has Its Struggles
After Max Scherzer’s good outing, it was up to the bullpen to try to keep the game tied in the bottom of the eighth. One of the major questions surrounding the Nats heading into the year was how would Baker set up the roles for each reliever as they try to set a bridge to the closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Those answers weren’t going to come in one day, but yesterday did leave some questions.
First, Baker went to Felipe Rivero, who struck out Beckham on three pitches to begin the inning. But, he walked Jeff Francoeur and gave up a base hit to Ender Inciarte. Two batters later, Rivero went up against the Nats’ killer, Freddie Freeman. While Rivero got the count full from 3-0, he ended up hitting Freeman with a pitch to load the bases.
Then, Baker went to Kelley to face Adonis Garcia and Kelley had an awful debut. He could not locate any of his pitches and ended up walking Garcia on four pitches. In his first game, Kelley made Nats’ history, but not the good kind:
However, the other new Nats’ reliever, Oliver Perez, was able to keep the Nats in the game by striking out Nick Markakis on four pitches.
With the game tied, Blake Treinen came in and walked the leadoff batter. However, he settled in after a great play by Espinosa led to a 6-3 double play. Then, with the Nats in front, Papelbon was able to throw a perfect tenth inning to get the save.
Early on in the season, the Nats are going to have some struggles with the bullpen in trying to find who fills each role in the bullpen other than Papelbon at closer and Yusmeiro Petit as the long man. However, Baker did show trust in his relievers like Rivero (25 pitches) and with Treinen as he eventually settled down. It will be interesting to watch how the bullpen progresses throughout the season, but it is still one of the areas of concern for the Nats after day one.