Nationals: Takeaways From 14-1 Win Over D’Backs

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Aug 1, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals base runner Daniel Murphy slides into third base in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 1, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals base runner Daniel Murphy slides into third base in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jul 19, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Mark Melancon (35) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Melancon Has Strong Debut

Even though the new Washington Nationals closer didn’t get into a save situation last night in his debut, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a good debut. He retired the Diamondbacks in order in the bottom of the ninth while striking out two batters. He threw 11 pitches, with ten of them being strikes.

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Melancon threw three pitches last night (four-seam fastball, cutter, knuckle curve) and got a strikeout each on the cutter and knuckle curve. He may not have the velocity on his fastball that everyone would like, but he is still an effective closer, to say the least.

The other aspect of the bullpen that stood out last night was Jonathan Papelbon pitching for the first time since Friday. He threw a 1-2-3 inning of his own on eight pitches as he tries to gain his confidence back.

While no one knows what Papelbon’s role will be down the road, it doesn’t sound like he is going to be in those big moment situations just yet:

Next: Strasburg Asserts Dominance In Win Over D'Backs

Before Papelbon had that bad week last week, he was having a good month of July after coming back from the intercostal injury. Right now, I still think he is going to be an intricate part of this bullpen down the stretch, especially since the Washington Nationals didn’t add another arm besides Melancon at the trade deadline.

All in all, last night was a good thing for the bullpen because they got the rest they needed after a long week in Cleveland and San Francisco. Plus, they got Melancon to make his debut in a non-stressful situation.

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