Bullpen Has Been Better Than Advertised
Through 40 games this season, the Nats’ bullpen has a staggering 2.77 ERA, second only to the Mets in the National League. When Mike Rizzo blew up the bullpen in the offseason, bringing in arms Shawn Kelley, Oliver Perez, and Yusmeiro Petit, he was hoping a set of fresh faces could fix what was probably the most glaring issue on the team in 2015.
So far, that move has proved to exceed any and all expectations. Kelley has yet to allow a run in eighteen appearances. Perez is holding lefties to an insane .050/.217/.053 slash line. Petit has embraced the long reliever role, sporting a 1.71 ERA in a bullpen-leading 21 innings.
Holdovers Felipe Rivero and Blake Treinen might not have sparkling ERAs, but Rivero has an 11.0 K/9 and Treinen has stranded 85.1 percent of inherited runners. Matt Belisle pitched well prior to his trip to the Disabled List, and Sammy Solis has filled in admirably since. And in the back-end of the ‘pen, closer Jonathan Papelbon has converted eleven saves, good for seventh in the MLB.
While it was certainly expected that this group would be at least a little bit better coming into the season, not many could have realistically expected this kind of success. On paper, not many names other than Papelbon stand out. Yet here they are, sitting at the one-quarter mark with better numbers than the Royals, Yankees, and Pirates.
Can they sustain this level of performance over the course of 162 games? Only time will tell, but for now, the Nats are riding it out for as long as they can.
Next: Solid Glovework