Washington Nationals: Matt Albers Becoming Reliable In Bullpen

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Apr 27, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Matt Albers (43) during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Matt Albers (43) during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the Washington Nationals bullpen roles are still being settled, Matt Albers continues to make his case for the late innings

When Matt Albers was called up to the Washington Nationals on April 9, most people thought he would be the long reliever and provide innings after Jeremy Guthrie gave up ten runs in the first inning in the night before. But, as the weeks have gone on, Albers is making the case for more high leverage situations.

Yesterday, in the Nats’ 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was Albers who got to pitch the eighth inning and he delivered in a big way. He threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which included getting Chris Owings to strike out looking.

That strikeout of Owings ended up being crucial because it left Paul Goldschmidt in the on-deck circle as the tying run. Goldschmidt would end up hitting a home run against Joe Blanton in the top of the ninth.

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Since making his 2017 debut on April 10, the 34-year-old right-hander has yet to give up an earned run in any of his eight appearances. He may only have seven strikeouts, but he has given up four hits and held opponents to a .121 batting average.

Out of his seven appearances, Albers has pitched in the eighth inning in four of them. While Dusty Baker isn’t known for having specific roles with his relievers besides the closer, Albers is slowly establishing himself as a reliever that he can depend on.

So, what is the secret for his success? Well, his sinker is being thrown down in the zone and teams aren’t making much against it. According to Brooks Baseball, hitters have a .105 against that pitch and they do not have a single hit against his slider as well.

For more on Albers and Max Scherzer’s 11 strikeouts yesterday against Arizona, check out our DoDcast postgame show from yesterday hosted by co-editor Ron Juckett:

If you go off Albers’ career ERA in the eighth inning of 5.00 (Baseball Reference), this success shouldn’t last long. However, when he is pitching, the Washington Nationals seem to win games. In his first eight appearances, the Nats are 6-2.

Right now, there aren’t many relievers that fans can feel comfortable with in the bullpen. You would think the Nats are going to add arms to this bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline.

With that being said, Albers has been a pleasant surprise as he has gone from a reliever who didn’t even make the team coming out of spring training to a pitcher that is being trusted in the late innings out of the bullpen.

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If you had Albers and Oliver Perez (no runs allowed in his last six games) as the two relievers that are the most trustworthy pitchers in the bullpen, then you should try your luck in Vegas. Baseball is unpredictable, but that’s what makes stories like Albers so much fun to watch and see how they unfold.

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