Washington Nationals: 5 to watch in visit to San Francisco

Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 24, 2017; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Mark Melancon (41) reacts after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park. The Giants won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

Mark Melancon

When the Giants signed Melancon this winter, they thought they had the answer to their bullpen problems. Instead, Melancon has had to spend time on the disabled list this season due to a forearm strain. He was on the DL from May 3-May 19.

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Melancon’s season didn’t start off great either when you consider he blew the save in the season opener against the Diamondbacks. But, the 32-year-old right-hander has pitched better in May as he’s given up just one run in five games. But, opponents are hitting .316 and right-handers are 12-for-27 against him.

As Washington Nationals fans know from last season, Melancon doesn’t have the velocity to have high strikeout totals out of the bullpen. He has 12 K’s in 15 games this season and he’s part of a bullpen that has the second fewest strikeouts in the NL with 135. (Nats have the fewest – 124).

If the Giants decide to be sellers at the trade deadline, Melancon is a difficult contract to trade because he has opt-outs in the final two years of his deal. While it was a good contract at the time, it’s tough to pay a closer over $60 million on a team that is near the bottom of the division.

One hitter to watch if the Nats need a comeback against Melancon in this series is going to be Daniel Murphy. Murphy is 4-for-5 against the closer and that includes a pinch-hit home run he had against him last year when Melancon was in Pittsburgh.

While the Nats are watching Melancon from the other side, Koda Glover has shown dominance in the ninth inning with his nasty slider and his ability to get the strikeouts that the bullpen desperately needs. It will be fun to watch the battle of the Nats present closer and the Nats past closer.

Next: Strasburg's epic Saturday

We want to hear from you! Who are the players you are watching in this week’s series in San Francisco? Send us your thoughts in the comments section.