Washington Nationals: 2017 turning points for another title

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TRADING PLACES

Drew Douglas marvels at the work of Mike Rizzo:

After losing Mark Melancon in free agency, the Washington Nationals failed to address their bullpen needs all off-season. They entered the season with Blake Treinen closing, who lost the job to Shawn Kelley, who lost the job to Koda Glover, who suffered a season-ending injury.

Besides the revolving door of closers, the middle-inning relievers struggled mightily. Joe Blanton got off to a terrible start and Sammy Solis struggled through injuries, to name a few.

All things considered, the Nats had the worst bullpen in the league and it cost them too many games. Finally, in July, Mike Rizzo realized he made a mistake by not fixing the bullpen and took action.

On July 16, the Nats acquired Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from Oakland. Madson took over the eighth with Doolittle in the ninth, forming a dynamic duo.

Since being acquired, Madson battled a finger injury, but has been among the most reliable relievers in the league when healthy. Doolittle struggled out of the gate, but has converted all 20 save opportunities since joining the Nats.

Acquiring Doolittle and Madson did wonders for the Nats, and their record shows it. They were a great team before the trade, but the trade elevated them to a new level. Since July 16, they are 39-25, which includes meaningless September games.

The Nats would’ve won the division without Doolittle and Madson, but gaining them took the team to a new level and completely turned the season around.

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