Where would the Nationals be without Sean Doolittle?
Through the first 10 games of the 2019 season, the Washington Nationals have the worst bullpen E.R.A. wise in the MLB. The one positive holding it all together is closer Sean Doolittle.
On July 16, 2017, the Washington Nationals had a problem. The team was 55-36, the starting pitching and offense were both doing outstanding jobs, but the one weakness of the team was their bullpen, especially the back end. Mike Rizzo and the Nationals front office realized a move needed to be made, and they acquired Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from the Oakland Athletics.
When this move was made, I and many other Nationals fans were uncertain about what Doolittle would bring. There were questions if he would even be the closer over Madson, and many questioned if the move would be enough to make their bullpen serviceable for a deep playoff run.
Doolittle put all the doubters to rest, having an outstanding end of the 2017 season, finishing his season in Washington with 24 saves and a 2.40 E.R.A.
Today we stand on April 10 and the Washington Nationals have a similar bullpen problem as they did in 2017. The team took a chance gambling on guys like Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough to be good enough to get the game to Doolittle in the ninth, but so far Rosenthal has yet to record an out in a game, and Barraclough has been average at best.
With all the struggles in the Nationals bullpen just ten games into the season, it makes me think about where would this team be without Sean Doolittle?
For years the Nationals struggled to find a lock-down closer. After Chad Cordero departed, Washington went years until 2011 when Drew Storen took over the job and was successful. After that, the team went through many closers such as Rafael Soriano, Jonathan Papelbon, and Blake Treinen until they finally made the move to get Doolittle.
Since he arrived in the Nations Capitol the feeling in the ninth inning has completely changed. When the doctor enters the game, you have confidence he will shut it down. Doolittle pitches with no fear, and always attacks hitters with fearless abandon.
It figures the Washington Nationals will have to make another move to bolster their bullpen this season if they want to contend, but one thing is certain. The ninth inning is no problem, and for that, we all should be thankful for Sean Doolittle.