Shawn Kelley emerging as vocal leader as bullpen looks to find its way

A lot of the concern to begin this season centers around the Nationals bullpen and if it will be able to get on track.

Going on the road will be a very good test to see where it is.

Sunday’s walk-off win courtesy Bryce Harper masked what was a rough last two innings for the bullpen: allowing three runs after the club had a 3-1 lead after seven innings.

Shawn Kelley battled out of a bases-loaded two-out jam in the ninth that could have blown up. The Phillies had turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead and were one hit away from making it 7-3.

It makes sense that a veterans like Kelley and Joe Blanton would lead this group and help it to get in a better groove. Kelley has more experience than the likes of Blake Treinen, Sammy Solis and especially Koda Glover.

Kelley said he does work with the bullpen guys a lot about what to do in high-leverage situations.

Shawn-Kelley-throwing-white-sidebar.jpg“We talk a lot,” Kelley said. “We talk a little hitters, we talk stuff. We build each other up a little bit. Make sure that guys realize even after a rough one or two rough ones, that baseball is a game where you get on each other, and there’s a lot of joking and playing around and stuff like that, but when it comes down to it, we got a group down there that really supports each other and cares for each other. If we see somebody’s down at all or somebody feels like that they are lacking anything, we make sure we’re the first ones to tell them (to) remember who you are. You are really good.”

Glover is learning as he goes, but he certainly has the stuff that could be unhittable once he gets rolling.

“That’s what he’s got. He’s got stuff that guys can’t hit, really,” Kelley said. “A lot of it was us kind of hurting ourselves, we were falling behind hitters and walking guys, and if we get back to what we’re capable of and just believing that we’re better than the hitter is and throwing our stuff, then that’s what Koda can do. I hope he does it all year cause that’s fun to watch.”

* Right-hander Erick Fedde has been pitching well to begin the season for Double-A Harrisburg. In two starts, Fedde is 1-0 with 0.00 ERA over 11 innings.

He has given up one unearned run on seven hits, with three walks and nine strikeouts. Hitters are batting .171 against him.

Fedde’s next start is Wednesday against Hartford.

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