Washington Nationals: 5 storylines to watch in trip to Houston

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Bullpen battle in Texas

Early in the season, if you told someone the Washington Nationals would win Bullpen Of The Week in August, I’m sure there would be some people who would find you crazy. Well, it happened after the Nats bullpen gave up two runs in four games against the Padres over the weekend.

The bullpen has had its fair share of injuries with Ryan Madson recently going on the disabled list with a finger sprain. However, Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle have done a good job in the eighth and ninth inning respectively. Kintzler has a 0.90 ERA in ten games and Doolittle is 11-for-11 in saves.

The Nats added to their bullpen at the trade deadline and so did the Astros. Houston didn’t asd an elite arm into the mix, but they did acquire Francisco Liriano as another left-handed option and former Nats right-hander Tyler Clippard is now part of their bullpen.

Houston’s closer, Ken Giles, is 24-for-27 in saves this season with an opponents batting average of .185. One name to watch is their setup reliever, Luke Gregerson. In his last 14 appearances, the right-hander has an ERA of 5.27 and he’s given up three home runs (six in 37 first half outings).

Both of these teams have good depth in their bullpen and that should be on display in this series. Neither team has one of the elite relievers in the game, but both bullpens have shown good success as a unit.