Washington Nationals: Sean Doolittle ready to continue building DC legacy

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Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle did a phenomenal job after being acquired at the mid-season trade deadline last year, something he is ready to build upon in 2018.

The Washington Nationals bullpen ranked worst in the league throughout the first half of the 2017 season, but then reinforcements came, making everything was right again. Of these mid-season acquisitions, Sean Doolittle was the most notable.

The 31-year-old lefty was immediately thrust into the closer’s role upon arriving in DC, and he did not miss a beat. Doolittle pitched to a 2.40 ERA in 30 games with the Nats, while converting 21 of 22 save opportunities.

Partially due to his on-field success, Nats fans quickly took a liking to Doolittle. “DOOOOOO” chants ring around Nationals Park during his save opportunities at home, creating unusually positive excitement in the ninth inning. Add in Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, and Doolittle’s entrance creates a true playoff feel.

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In addition to locking down Nats wins, Doolittle is an outstanding citizen off the field. He hosted 17 Syrian refugees for Thanksgiving dinner in 2015, he works closely with wounded and traumatized veterans, he fundraises for the LGBTQ community; the list goes on and on.

In Doolittle, the Nats have one of the best players in the league, both on the field and off of it. DC is a unique market, but Doolittle appeals to everyone. He was adored in Oakland, and he is already beginning to build his DC legacy.

Now, Doolittle is entering his first full season with the Nats. He provides unfamiliar stability in the back of the bullpen, and it could not come at a better time. 2018 could be a fateful season for the Nats, and Doolittle puts them in a great position to finally win it all.

As long as Doolittle is able to remain healthy, he will join forces with Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler to form an elite trio in the back-end of the bullpen. Any lead feels safe with the big three in the game, which is a privilege that the Nats have seldom enjoyed in previous years.

Doolittle’s contract is also extremely team-friendly, which is beneficial with the several lucrative deals the Nats have handed out. Doolittle is under team control through 2020, and never makes more than $6.5 million in a season.

In today’s game, when closers are being paid as much as $18 million per year, Doolittle is an absolute bargain. Between his on-field performance, outstanding behavior off the field, and team-friendly contract, he truly is the total package.

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Although Doolittle is not as well-known as other closers, such as Kenley Jansen and Wade Davis, he is every bit as productive. Assuming he is able to remain healthy, he will play an enormous role with the Nats in 2018 and beyond.

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