When the rosters expand in September, all teams have more bullpen arms available with pitchers coming from the minor leagues. Even with those changes, the Washington Nationals have a consistent late-inning duo in Mark Melancon and Shawn Kelley.
Melancon did blow a save against his former team (Pittsburgh Pirates) on August 23, but he was 8-for-9 in save chances and has given up only two runs since September 6. Since joining the Nats, Melancon is 15-for-16 in saves with a 1.98 ERA.
As for Kelley, he had a dominant month. The right-hander went 2-0 and gave up one hit while striking out 11 in 9.1 innings (.034 batting average against). Since August 1, Kelley has given up four runs in his last 18.2 innings.
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While Blake Treinen did give up an earned run in last night’s 7-4 loss to the Marlins, he did finish the month with a 0.82 ERA in 12 games and finished with 14 strikeouts (tied with Melancon for the team lead). In the seventh inning of games this year, Treinen has a 1.56 ERA in 17.1 innings.
Another pitcher who stood out in a new role this past month was Reynaldo Lopez. As the long man, the 22-year-old gave up four runs in 14 innings while striking out 11. By showing more command of his fastball, Lopez has most likely earned his way onto the postseason roster.
The bullpen did get an added boost with the return of Sammy Solis into the mix. Solis appeared in two games this past week. By adding Solis, the Nats have a left-hander who can get lefties and righties out to go with other left-handers such as Oliver Perez (.111 average against) and Marc Rzepczynski (3.00 ERA in nine games).
Two pitchers who had bad months were Yusmeiro Petit and Koda Glover. Petit only made three appearances, but gave up five runs in 3.1 innings. As for Glover, Baker tried to use him in high leverage situations, but had a 7.27 ERA and gave up three home runs.
All in all, the bullpen showed some good signs for the Washington Nationals in September. Right now, I think fans should be confident in Melancon and Kelley going forward with the way they’ve been pitching lately. The interesting thing to watch will be how Baker uses the rest of the ‘pen once the NLDS begins.