Washington Nationals: Sammy Solis emerging in bullpen at the right time

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ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 1: Reliever Sammy Solis #36 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on July 1, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 1: Reliever Sammy Solis #36 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on July 1, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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After a rough start to the season, Sammy Soli shas returned to form in the Washington Nationals bullpen

When you look at the Washington Nationals bullpen, it has improved by leaps and bounds since the All-Star break. The headlines are going to be around the trio the team traded for (Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson, and Sean Doolittle). However, Sammy Solis being healthy shouldn’t be overlooked.

2017 started off rough for Solis. In April, he went on the disabled list due to inflammation in his left elbow. He ended up being out until July 1 and then went back down to Triple-A nine days later.

While it is only seven outings, the second half has been much more kinder to Solis than the first half. His ERA is at 3.86, but take a look at the other numbers. In eight innings, he has given up three hits, struck out nine, and has held opposing hitters to a .111 batting average (lowest on the team)

Despite the small sample size, Solis has not allowed an extra-base hit in the second half. According to Brooks Baseball, all three hits since the break against the 29-year-old left-hander have come against his breaking ball. In fact, his breaking ball usage of 27.3% (according to Fangraphs) is the highest percentage he’s thrown that pitch in his major league career.

As for the fastball, he is getting more movement on it and its paying huge dividends. In the five appearances he has made in the month of August, the fastball is maxing out at 96 miles-per-hour (Brooks Baseball). Yes, he has thrown the heater 97 mph at times, but the movement on the pitch has been great, such as the Mike Trout strikeout on Wednesday.

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Since Enny Romero is currently on the disabled list, that leaves Dusty Baker with only two primary left-handers to use in the middle innings. Oliver Perez has pitched well, but he’s mainly been used against lefties. Solis is valuable because he can pitch to both lefties and righties.

Once the postseason rolls around, Solis’s value is going to be extremely important to the Washington Nationals. If you go off of last year’s NLDS, it is clear Dusty Baker can trust him in any situation as he was used in all five games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In a 162 game season, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. After a rough beginning to his season, it looks like Solis has turned a corner and can help out in high leverage situation.

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Due to Ryan Madson being on the disabled list, Solis could be an alternate member of the trio along with any combination of Matt Albers and Joe Blanton in the seventh. Solis is finally healthy and it’s fun to watch when he is on his A game.

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