The bullpen took a big hit earlier this month when closer Jonathan Papelbon went on the 15-day disabled list because of a right intercostal strain. Papelbon is still in the middle of his rehab stint as he plays with double-A Harrisburg tonight.
With Papelbon out, Shawn Kelley became the new closer. While Kelley had a 5.25 ERA, he did convert four of his five save chances and his only blown save was because of a Michael Taylor error in Los Angeles. He had 21 strikeouts in June, which was the most of any Washington Nationals reliever.
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Two other relievers who had a strong month for the Nats were left-hander Sammy Solis (1-1 with a 0.71 ERA in nine appearances) and right-hander Blake Treinen (1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in nine appearances). Plus, Yusmeiro Petit had a strong spot start against Clayton Kershaw when Strasburg was scratched on June 20.
The two relievers who had awful months were Oliver Perez and Felipe Rivero. Perez had a 7.94 ERA in 12 outings with opponents hitting .292. Rivero was worst than Perez as he had a 10.64 ERA in 11 games and opponents hit a mammoth .356.
When you look at the bullpen, it could use Papelbon coming back to bring back the roles from the earlier season to the ‘pen. But, at the same time, they could still use another arm before the August 1 trade deadline, despite having the second lowest reliever ERA in the NL at 3.13 (Dodgers are first at 3.06).