Do the Nats Need Bullpen Help?
Dusty Baker pulled Scherzer out of the game after throwing seven strong innings that kept his team in it. Baker then turned to his bullpen to do the same, hoping to give his offense a chance to make something happen. The bullpen responded beautifully, tossing eight straight innings of scoreless baseball before finally allowing a run to cross the plate in the eighteenth inning.
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Every reliever on the Nationals’ staff other than Sammy Solis made an appearance in the game. Matt Belisle threw two frames and Felipe Rivero came out of nowhere to throw three. Oliver Perez eventually served up a homer to Starling Marte in his second inning of the day, taking the loss and raising his season ERA to 4.91.
Besides Perez, the Nats bullpen proved why its 2.99 relievers’ ERA is no fluke. Shawn Kelley and Jonathan Papelbon have proven to be reliable veterans at the back-end of the ‘pen. Rivero and Blake Treinen are proving to Mike Rizzo and Dusty that sticking with them through their struggles was the right decision. Even Belisle, who made the team with the final roster spot out of spring training, is putting up zeros.
With the Nationals actively surveying the trade market for relievers, one has to question where an acquired reliever would slot in this impressive group of arms. Would he replace Perez despite the Mexican lefty’s two-year deal he signed with the Nationals over the offseason? Does Papelbon get demoted despite not having allowed a run since returning from the Disabled List on July 4?