Washington Nationals: Nats Bullpen Gets Chance to Reset
The much-maligned Washington Nationals bullpen pitched perfectly on Saturday, throwing five shutout innings in the win over Cincinnati.
The Washington Nationals scored a much-needed victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday. The “MVP” award for yesterday’s game can be diced up four ways: Matt Grace, Tanner Rainey, Wander Suero, and Sean Doolittle all deserve the honor. They combined to pitch five shutout innings in relief of Erick Fedde.
After Fedde was forced out of the game after four innings, it did not appear that the Nationals’ two-run lead had a chance to hold up.
Coming into the game, the Nationals had a bullpen ERA of 7.06. No other team in baseball had a bullpen ERA above 6.0.
However, to many spectators’ surprise, they prevented an average Reds offense in their home ballpark to zero runs, two measly hits, and one walk.
This performance is a continuation of excellent pitching after the team picked up Patrick Corbin on Friday after the worst start of his season. Corbin allowed eight runs (six earned runs), but the bullpen allowed only one run in 5.1 IP.
Javy Guerra pitched 3.1 of those innings. Tony Sipp and Grace each pitched one shutout inning.
“They’ve done a great job,” manager Davey Martinez said in his post-game interview on Saturday. “They’re making their pitches, hitting their locations. That was a tall task [for them today], and they came in and did their job.”
With Max Scherzer pitching the series finale today, and an off-day on Monday, the Nats bullpen gets a chance to stop, breathe, and continue their positive momentum into the rest of the month.
The next three series give the Nats an advantage on the mound. After the off-day, the Nats play the Chicago White Sox, who lose the designated hitter spot by playing in D.C.
Next, the Nats travel to sunny San Diego and the spacious Petco Park, one of the best pitchers parks in baseball. Then, the Nats go to Chicago, completing the home-and-home series.
Both the White Sox and Padres are below average offenses, which sets up well for the Nats.
Then, after the second White Sox series, the club gets another off-day before starting an 11-game homestand.
The schedule gives the Nationals several advantages over the next two weeks. The bullpen needs to take full advantage of them and get back on track.