Coming into the season, the bullpen was one of the major question marks on this team. While you can’t fully answer the question in one month, the bullpen has definitely been a pleasant surprise. So far, Nats’ relievers have a 2.53 ERA, which is the lowest of any team in the National League. At the same time, this group of relievers doesn’t strike many people out. They have 66 K’s, which is tied with the Cubs for the fourth fewest in the NL.
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First, let’s look at the closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon did have one blown save in Philadelphia, but he is 8-for-9 in save opportunities and providing some form of consistency for the Washington Nationals in the ninth inning.
As far as the setup options go, Felipe Rivero has the highest ERA of any reliever (3.55), but his 14 K’s are the most of the relief options. The surprise has been Blake Treinen, who has settled in as the right-handed option in the eighth and has been able to get out of key jams with his sinker. He gave up three runs, but two of them came in Friday’s outing against St. Louis.
The Nats brought in some new pitchers this offseason to help with the bullpen. Shawn Kelley has yet to give up a run in ten appearances, lefties are only hitting .077 against Oliver Perez, and Yusmeiro Petit has come up big in two games for the Nationals as the long man, whether it was filling in for Ross on April 21 because of the blister or keeping the team in the 16-inning game against the Twins.
While its only one month, the team has not felt the loss of Drew Storen in the bullpen just yet. It may not be striking many hitters out, but it has still been effective and Baker has managed it well when you consider that the relievers have thrown the third fewest innings (67.2) of any NL team.