The Nats lost a heartbreaker to the Orioles 5-3. What stood out the most?
Washington led most of the game, but the bullpen fell apart in the eighth and the team went on to lose 5-3. Sound familiar? Here are three takeaways from last night’s loss.
Sean Doolittle’s Struggles Continue
With the Nats up 3-0 in the eighth, Dave Martinez handed the ball to Sean Doolittle who is still trying to find himself. Unfortunately, Doolittle’s struggles continued. The lefty immediately gave up back to back pinch-hit home runs to Pat Valaika and Pedro Severino before striking out Chris Davis. Before Davis struck out, he launched a ball that went the distance but went foul at the last second. Doolittle’s velocity is still down from last year and he himself is struggling for answers. After the game, Doolittle told reporters,
"“I feel terrible. I’m letting the team down”"
Doolittle might need to be sent down so he can work on his mechanics in order to avoid being mentally defeated.
Juan Soto Is Coming Alive
The Nationals superstar had a productive night and finally got himself on the board. Soto went deep in the first inning for his first homer of the season. On the night, he went 2-3, with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI. A night after going hitless, it is good to see Soto rebound. Through three games, the 21-year-old is hitting .364.
Did Martinez Make The Right Decision Putting In Doolittle?
After starter Austin Voth was pulled to start the sixth, Javy Guerra and Tanner Rainey kept the shutout intact. Guerra and Rainey both were very efficient, throwing 13 and 10 pitches respectively. While hindsight is 50-50, Martinez should have allowed both of them to start a second inning. After all, both Guerra and Rainey have been the team’s best relievers and neither encountered any problems. Especially Rainey, who struck out two on seven pitches. He only threw one ball and showed that he’s the team’s future closer.
Instead, Martinez went to Doolittle with a three-run lead. His decision was understandable, as Doolittle an opportunity to get over his yips. Instead, it backfired and the team went on to lose. In a 60 game season, the Nationals cannot afford to fall behind and last night was a perfect opportunity for the Nats to catch back up to the pack. While having Doolittle back at full strength will go a long way for the team, the offense has been abysmal. The offense is 29th in the league in runs scored and at the time being cannot be counted on to come from behind very often. So risking last night’s lead was very questionable.