Liz Barr: Wander Suero, Greg Holland have strengthened Nationals bullpen

In a season like the 2018 Nationals have been having, it’s important to focus on individual accomplishments. Not a lot of the guys have been necessarily bad, per se, and many of them are actually having fantastic seasons. Nothing is clicking all on the same cylinders at the same time. While their record isn’t what you want it to be, a number of guys can be proud of how their seasons turned out individually, and some of these players reside in the bullpen.

A lot of people can get up in arms about the bullpen and are quick to blame one guy for the team’s demise or shout, “They suck!” and never listen to reason. Admittedly, sometimes even the guys having good seasons will have a bad game. Sometimes one bad outing can lead to a loss, and that happens to even the most elite of closers. It doesn’t mean their whole season is bad.

Save for maybe Sean Doolittle, the arms of the bullpen don’t necessarily get a lot of light on them, so they can get pushed back into the shadows and forgotten. But Wander Suero and Greg Holland have both had pretty good seasons with the Nationals.

This is Suero’s first season in the major leagues, and thus far, he’s put up a pretty good showing. He has been up and down to the minor leagues, but for the most part he’s been with the big club. Coming into Tuesday’s doubleheader, Suero had appeared in 32 games over 40 1/3 innings, and he had a 3.35 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 13 walks. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 3.08, and his K/9 is 8.9. He also has not earned a lot this year, and while wins and losses are arbitrary, especially for relievers, there’s something to be said about not having a single loss on your record.

Suero has some very good pitches at his disposal, and he is only going to get better with time. This is still only his first year in the majors, and he is going to keep learning and figuring out who he is as a pitcher. He has the potential to be something great. Down the line, Suero is likely going to get more high-leverage situations. He started as a middle reliever, but he is now transitioning to the back end after the departure of big names such as Ryan Madison and Brandon Kintzler, along with the injury to Kelvin Herrera. For the rest of this season and into next year, Suero could become one of the Nationals’ more relied-upon relievers.

Holland did not have a good time with the = Cardinals this season. In 25 innings, he gave up 22 earned runs on 24 hits, which resulted in an ugly 7.92 ERA and a departure from their organization. However, since becoming a National, he seems to have rediscovered himself. Admittedly, it has been limited time, but the showing is very good. Coming into Tuesday’s doubleheader, Holland had appeared in 16 games over 14 innings pitched, and he had a 0.64 ERA, only giving up one run on five hits while striking out 14 and collecting two saves. His WHIP is 0.72, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 2.80, and his K/9 ratio is 9.0. While it isn’t near the form of his heyday with the Royals, he is doing well for himself, and he’s been a good in-season pickup for the Nationals. With his unique delivery and extensive experience, he has become someone the Nationals can rely upon late.

While it’s unknown how Suero might be used next year, or if Holland might return next year, both have provided solid seasons for the Nationals. And no matter how this season may end, we’ll likely see both Suero and Holland used in important roles down the stretch.

Liz Barr blogs about the Nationals for The Nats Blog. Follow her on Twitter: @RaiseTheBarr1. Her opinions on the Nationals will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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