Bolstered by Glover and Kelley, bullpen puts up zeros in victory

Bolstered by Glover and Kelley, bullpen puts up zeros in victory
Lost among the excitement of Bryce Harper's walk-off homer last night was the fact it would not have been possible if not for some stellar work by the Nationals bullpen, which turned in its best collective effort in weeks. After Tanner Roark was pulled with two outs in the fifth and his pitch count at 110, a quintet of Nationals relievers combined to toss 4 1/3 scoreless innings, keeping the game tied 4-4 to set the stage for Harper's game-winning blast in the bottom of the ninth. It's...
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Kelley and Glover on track to return from DL on Friday

Kelley and Glover on track to return from DL on Friday
They won't, by their mere presence alone, turn the Nationals bullpen from a major problem into a major asset. But the anticipated return this weekend of both Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover from the disabled list certainly won't hurt the Nats' attempt to stabilize the shakiest unit on their roster. The Nationals haven't made final decisions yet, but both Kelley and Glover are on track to be activated off the disabled list Friday and be available to pitch in their series opener against the...
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While lineup soars, bullpen continues to concern Nationals

While lineup soars, bullpen continues to concern Nationals
The Nationals lineup, in case you hadn't heard, is really good. As the calendar shifts from April to May, the Nats as a team lead the majors in runs, hits, doubles, RBIs, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. And on an individual level, either Ryan Zimmerman or Bryce Harper now leads the majors in runs, hits, home runs, RBIs, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. What's not to like about this team? Well, besides the...
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Treinen out as closer; Nats will "mix and match" Kelley, Glover

Treinen out as closer; Nats will "mix and match" Kelley, Glover
ATLANTA - Blake Treinen is no longer going to pitch the ninth inning for the Nationals, but the club isn't going to designate one replacement closer for now, choosing instead to split those duties between veteran Shawn Kelley and rookie Koda Glover. The decision was made in the wake of Treinen's latest near-meltdown Tuesday night, when the right-hander entered with a 3-0 lead in hand over the Braves and proceeded to give up two singles and issue two walks (one with the bases loaded) while...
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Nationals promote Albers, designate Guthrie for assignment

Nationals promote Albers, designate Guthrie for assignment
PHILADELPHIA - Needing a fresh arm after four consecutive days of extensive bullpen use, the Nationals purchased the contract of Matt Albers this morning, ensuring the veteran right-hander will be available if needed during today's series finale against the Phillies. Jeremy Guthrie, who was rocked for 10 runs in only two-thirds of an inning Saturday night, was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot. It was an unceremonious, but necessary, end to Guthrie's 24 hours with the...
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Nationals relievers cope with first blown lead of 2017

Nationals relievers cope with first blown lead of 2017
During the first week of the season, when everything is magnified, it's easy to fall into the trap of drawing long-term conclusions on both positive and negative developments. Two games into their season, the Nationals bullpen looked like a strength, their new closer up to the challenge. Three games into their season, that same bullpen looks like a weakness, the new closer unable to deliver when he really needs to deliver. Truth be told, neither answer is fair at this ridiculously early...
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How Baker and Maddux manage late-inning bullpen usage

How Baker and Maddux manage late-inning bullpen usage
For all the attention, ink and pixels devoted this spring to the question of who would be pitching the ninth inning for the Nationals in 2017, Dusty Baker knew all along that was a short-sighted take on the situation. "I'm always stressing to our guys: Let's win the seventh, eighth and ninth, if necessary," the manager said. "Which we did the other day." Indeed, the Nationals' opening day victory over the Marlins was made possible by their performance in the game's final three innings,...
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With closer named, Nats bullpen has chance to be exceptional

With closer named, Nats bullpen has chance to be exceptional
While everyone spent the last seven weeks - or, actually, the last 5 1/2 months - worrying about who was going to be the Nationals closer in 2017, a slightly more important fact might well have been glossed over: This team could have a really good bullpen in 2017. And that's not just touting the company line. Stop for a moment and consider the seven men most likely to comprise the Nats' relief corps come Monday afternoon ... Blake Treinen Shawn Kelley Koda Glover Joe Blanton Sammy Solís...
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Nathan on unconditional release: "I get it"

Nathan on unconditional release: "I get it"
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Joe Nathan and Matt Albers did just about everything within their power to convince the Nationals to make them part of their opening day roster. In the end, the club simply didn't have space for either veteran in its deep bullpen. The Nationals granted both Nathan and Albers their unconditional releases this morning, beating a noon Eastern time deadline that required the pitchers either to be told they had made the club or else be paid a $100,000 retention bonus to...
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Nathan making his case, but do the Nats have room for him?

Nathan making his case, but do the Nats have room for him?
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Joe Nathan hasn't been in this particular position - less than two weeks to go until opening day, trying desperately to make a big league roster, utterly unsure if it's going to happen - in quite some time. The 42-year-old reliever had for well more than a decade used spring training simply to prepare himself for the regular season, knowing he was locked in as his team's closer. And the only times that wasn't the case was because he was recovering from one of his two...
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Tough bullpen decisions looming for Nationals

Tough bullpen decisions looming for Nationals
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - We're just about getting to that point when the Nationals have to start making some tough roster decisions. And none they face over the final two weeks of spring training may be tougher than how to divvy up the last few spots in their bullpen. Forget the competition for closer. That's an issue itself, but the more complicated competition is for the sixth and seventh jobs in what no matter what looks like a deep relief corps. Barring some unforeseen development, five...
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No closer? No problem, insist members of Nats bullpen

No closer? No problem, insist members of Nats bullpen
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Shawn Kelley doesn't know who the Nationals closer is going to be to start the season. Neither does Blake Treinen nor Joe Nathan nor Joe Blanton nor Dusty Baker. (Well, maybe Baker knows deep down who he intends to have pitching the ninth inning, but he's publicly insisting that decision hasn't been made yet.) To outsiders, this appears to be cause for concern, maybe even a major problem. How can a team as good as the Nationals, a team trying to win its fourth...
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Sources: Nats sign veteran reliever Blanton for $4 million

Sources: Nats sign veteran reliever Blanton for $4 million
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Nationals have signed veteran reliever Joe Blanton to a one-year, major-league deal, according to a club source, adding some much-needed right-handed depth to their bullpen. Blanton has arrived in West Palm Beach and could be in uniform as soon as Wednesday. His deal, according to a source familiar with the terms, guarantees him $4 million this season, with up to $1 million in incentives. Blanton's signing is pending a physical examination. The Nationals also will...
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Bullpen has some holes but plenty of talent

Bullpen has some holes but plenty of talent
As the start of spring training fast approaches, we're breaking down the state of the Nationals roster, position by position. The series continues today with the bullpen ... This may come as a surprise, given how much angst there seems to be over the subject, but the Nationals had one of baseball's best bullpens last season. The unit ranked in the top five in the majors in ERA (3.37), WHIP (1.187), opponents' on-base percentage (.300) and opponents' OPS (.673). So how come there's still so...
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A brief history of the Nats' ever-changing closer identity

A brief history of the Nats' ever-changing closer identity
We don't know yet who will serve as the Nationals closer come opening day, but we do know it will be someone new. Mark Melancon is no longer in D.C., having signed a four-year deal with the Giants earlier this winter. Drew Storen also is long gone, having spent 2016 in Toronto and Seattle, and now signed with the Reds for 2017. Jonathan Papelbon? He remains in parts unknown, but we do know he's not in Washington anymore. If you've been following the Nationals closely over the years, though,...
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Closer or not, Nationals do need more bullpen help

Closer or not, Nationals do need more bullpen help
The Nationals loaded up a semi-truck full of baseball gear Monday morning and sent it down Interstate 95 toward West Palm Beach, where their still-under-construction new spring training complex awaits. It's an annual rite of winter, the so-called "Truck Day" when teams across baseball do likewise and try to stir up warm feelings of pitchers and catchers and palm trees and bunting drills. That truck, however, does not contain everything the Nationals need for spring training. There are some...
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Could Nats stand pat and field competitive 25-man roster?

Could Nats stand pat and field competitive 25-man roster?
It has now been 41 days since the Nationals last added or subtracted a player from their 40-man roster. (It was the Danny Espinosa trade to the Angels, for those wondering.) That's an awfully prolonged period of radio silence for any major league club, but the Nats aren't alone in this regard. It's been an unusually slow-developing offseason across baseball, with a bunch of prominent free agents still unemployed even though we're closing in on three weeks til pitchers and catchers report...
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Solis hits "roadblock," but new lefties stepping up in Nats bullpen

Solis hits "roadblock," but new lefties stepping up in Nats bullpen
It has been one of the bigger questions facing the Nationals all season: Which left-handed reliever (or relievers) can they trust when crunch-time arrives? The answer to that question has changed several times in five months. Felipe Rivero and Oliver Perez were the primary left-handers in the Nationals bullpen back in April, but then Sammy Solis emerged as manager Dusty Baker's top southpaw as May turned to June and July. Then Rivero was traded to the Pirates in the Mark Melancon deal and...
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Late-summer acquisitions have boosted bullpen

Late-summer acquisitions have boosted bullpen
PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals entered late July with a bullpen that, while successful in the big picture, featured some significant question marks. Did they need a new closer? Did they need more reliable left-handed help? Did they need a burst of energy from another young arm? One month later, as the calendar now shifts from August to September, the Nationals bullpen has been tweaked. General manager Mike Rizzo addressed all three of those issues, and the results (so far) have been...
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What's the state of the Nats pitching staff tonight?

What's the state of the Nats pitching staff tonight?
BALTIMORE - The Nationals have spent the better part of a week trying to get their bullpen back in order. Just when it looked they had done it, they were forced to cobble together yet another game Tuesday night, needing 5 1/3 innings from their relief corps after starter Reynaldo Lopez was bumped early. It could have been a lot worse, though. Matt Belisle (three innings), Oliver Perez (one inning) and Yusmeiro Petit (1 1/3 innings) joined forces to get the staff through what wound up an 8-1...
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