Washington Nationals: Nats Bullpen Comes Through in Clutch

The Washington Nationals clung onto a one-run lead for dear life after Stephen Strasburg exited the game.  The Nats bullpen delivered with three shutout innings.

Victor Robles caught it. Wander Suero saved it. And the Nats won it.  The Washington Nationals, who seem to have a flair for the dramatic, defeated the Atlanta Braves 4-3 last night in one of the most entertaining games of the season.

The Nationals B-Team Bullpen Was Magnificant

Sean Doolittle, Tanner Rainey, and Wander Suero were all seemingly unavailable last night after each pitcher pitched on the 19th and 20th.  So it was the reserves’ turn to pitch in high-leverage innings.

First up was Javy Guerra.  Since the Nats acquired him on May 22, he has become a reliable option out of the pen.  He pitched a near-perfect inning, allowing only one single.

Next up was Tony Sipp, whose job was to sit Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis back down.  He did just that, striking out Freeman and getting Markakis to fly out.

Then, the big move came.

Davey Martinez called upon Trevor Rosenthal to pitch in a one-run game with the tying run at second base.  Rosenthal was set to face Austin Riley, who hit a home run earlier in the game and is one of the breakout stars of 2019.

Rosenthal induced a ground ball, which Anthony Rendon easily put away with the flick of his wrist.

In the ninth inning, Suero came into the game for the save.  He gave up a walk and single to the first two batters he faced.  He then buckled down to strike Ronald Acuna Jr. out and get two lineouts from Charlie Culberson and Dansby Swanson.

Robles helped him out in right field with an incredible sliding catch, sealing the game.

Earlier in the season, Martinez was criticized heavily for his bullpen usage strategies.  However, tonight, he was just about perfect, especially in his decision to bring Rosenthal in.

In a game in which Doolittle and Rainey were unavailable, and Rosenthal did not get a chance to pitch, it raises the question of why Rosenthal is on the roster at all.

Baby steps are certainly needed to get Rosenthal acclimated after his atrocious April.  This was his first high-leverage spot since his break, and he handled it wonderfully.

If Rosenthal can get back to even 80% of what he was many years ago with St. Louis, the Nationals might have fixed their bullpen issue.