The final piece to the Nationals bullpen could be the familiar face of Sean Doolittle.
With Josh Bell acquired and Kyle Schwarber signed, the Nationals have secured a starting first baseman and a corner outfielder. As they continue to mull over the idea of trading Carter Kieboom and starting catcher Yan Gomes 90-100 games in 2021, their focus should now turn to the pitching staff. Finding a starting pitcher who fits what the Nationals want, may be hard. Finding a left-handed reliever shouldn’t have to be. Bring back Sean Doolittle.
After an injury plagued, disastrous showing in 2020, I was ready to say good-bye to Doolittle as he entered free agency. I was hoping he would get paid on the open market and go somewhere to regain his All-Star form as a closer.
With a glut of free agents still unsigned and reporting dates for pitchers and catchers slowly creeping towards us, it would be in the best interest of the Nationals to reach out to Doolittle and see what his services would cost.
His days as the closer of the Nationals are over. For this reason, Doolittle may not want to come back. There are a handful of teams who need a ninth inning stopper (one less, after the Chicago White Sox agreed to terms with free agent closer, Liam Hendriks) and Doolittle may want to hold out for a chance at one of those jobs.
With the appropriate role, Doolittle can be the dominant left-handed reliever the Nationals are looking for. Overuse and mismanagement led to injuries and inconsistency during the latter part of his tenure with Washington before. He was reliable and one of the few arms out the bullpen manager Davey Martinez trusted, which came back to bite both of them when the injury bug bit.
In a down economic year, and coming off a down year (5.87 ERA in just 7.2 innings), Doolittle may be had for one year and cheaper than most. The Nationals would get their left handed specialist and Doolittle could improve his stock entering free agency next year when revenue streams are heightened and owners are paying better for players.
The Nationals don’t need to overspend or over think their remaining piece in the bullpen. They just need to bring back Sean Doolittle.