Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle had a bad night last night and some Nats fans are questioning Doolittle’s status in the bullpen.
I cannot believe that I have to write this article, but I also won’t let this debate rage on without putting some facts into place.
First, the context. Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle blew his fifth save of the season after allowing six hits and four earned runs in the bottom of the ninth in last night’s game against the New York Mets.
Doolittle allowed a double and a single before allowing the game-tying home run to Todd Frazier.
After a mound visit, Nationals manager Dave Martinez decided to leave Doolittle in the game. Doolittle proceeded to allow three more singles, the last of which won the game for New York.
As expected, the Nats blowing a ninth-inning lead led to some heated discussion on Twitter regarding that inning. Let’s talk about the good and bad parts of that discussion.
Did Martinez make the right decision to leave Doolittle in the game after he gave up the home run to Frazier? This is a legitimate question. Here is Martinez’s response:
Doolittle’s velocity was down; he was throwing 91-92 mile per hour fastballs. Hindsight is 20/20, but, yes, it may have been a good idea to remove him. There were zero outs, and nothing he was doing was working. According to The Washington Post reporter Sam Fortier, Doolittle said: “I wasn’t happy how the ball was coming out of my hand.”
Some (I stress that word, this is not a consensus thought) Nats fans did not want Doolittle in the game at all.
@NatsRallyCoton on Twitter says, “Sorry, given the way he’s pitched the last two weeks, he’s not who I want on the mound.”
@TheSelzman on Twitter says, “He has a 15 era and 3.00 WHIP and three blown saves in four chances against the Mets. But sure it’s just one bad day right? I thought we had a manager that likes analytics and stats? Well those stats say he sucks against the Mets. Sit him and try Rodney.”
@RoryGilmartin on Twitter claims, “Doolittle’s stuff isn’t overpowering. He’s a weak link.”
This is blasphemous.
Coming into this game, Doolittle had a 2.81 ERA in 48 innings pitched this season with 25 saves. He is an All-Star level reliever, even if he wasn’t invited to Cleveland this season. And most importantly, he is unquestionably better and more consistent than the other options in the Nationals bullpen.
If people are going to make a big deal that Doolittle has allowed ten earned runs in his last 1.2 innings of baseball against the Mets, then I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to debate people who use that logic; it is a waste of time, in my opinion.
Are some Nats fans forgetting that Doolittle has not allowed more than one earned run in an appearance since June 7? Or are they just going to omit that part and focus on a small sample size?
Sure, maybe the Mets have found something in their film study that exploits Doolittle. However, if the Nats are leading by one to three runs in the ninth inning tonight or Sunday afternoon, it’s going to be Doolittle running in from the outfield and nobody else. And I would have it no other way.