Washington Nationals: Five potential pitfalls for 2018

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Bryce Harper /
6 of 6

Bullpen Blow-up

There is nothing more painful than a blown lead late in the game.

More from District on Deck

A team has built a cushion over three hours and eight innings, only to see some reliever come down from his perch to lose the game. After a few agonizing losses, spirit starts to run low, and things can spiral out of control.

The Nationals should have a solid ‘pen this season, but their three best relievers do not come without risk. Sean Doolittle has not cracked 60 innings in a season since 2014. Ryan Madson missed three years from 2012-14 after elbow complications following Tommy John surgery. Brandon Kintzler was in Triple-A as recently as 2015.

Further down the depth chart is Koda Glover, Sammy Solis, and Shawn Kelley, who all have fairly serious injuries in their past and are coming off seasons with ERA’s above 5.00. There is a black hole scenario where everything goes wrong in the bullpen.

Next: The race for fifth starter

Rizzo, of course, can move to acquire relievers, but unlike last season, this relief corps is supposed to be relatively set. It would be disappointing to send out even more prospects to fix the bullpen. This is a team that should be making deals to push them over the top, not finding trades in order to make the playoffs.