As others try to adjust, Rainey thriving early in Nats 'pen

As others try to adjust, Rainey thriving early in Nats 'pen
It's only been a week, and these things can change quickly and dramatically, but at this point Tanner Rainey looks like an outlier among major league pitchers. While others are watching their workload or dealing with noticeable drops in velocity, Rainey is thriving. He's one of only six National League relievers to appear in five games so far, and the others all pitch for teams that have played 10 games this season to the Nationals' seven. His average fastball velocity (95.3 mph) ranks among...
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Harris placed on 10-day IL with right groin strain

Harris placed on 10-day IL with right groin strain
The Nationals placed Will Harris on the 10-day injured list this morning with a right groin strain, an injury that cropped up in recent days and kept the veteran reliever from pitching in what seemed like an obvious situation for him during Thursday's win over the Blue Jays. The transaction is retroactive to July 29, making Harris eligible to return Aug. 8 at the earliest. Harris appeared in only two of the Nationals' first seven games this season, and looked shaky in each. He made his debut...
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Suero, Elías throwing but won't make opening night bullpen

Suero, Elías throwing but won't make opening night bullpen
Though Wander Suero and Roenis Elías have rejoined the Nationals and have been cleared to work out with the club, neither reliever will be ready to open the season on the active roster. Suero and Elías were among the group of 11 players who were not initially cleared to participate in summer training at Nationals Park, either because they tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to someone else who did. Both were placed on the 10-day injured list July 13. Elías, though, was cleared...
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State of the Nats roster: Bullpen

State of the Nats roster: Bullpen
We continue today a periodic look at the state of the Nationals roster at the point spring training was suspended and project how things may look whenever baseball is played again. Up next is the bullpen... Team officials are always going to speak optimistically about their roster during spring training. If you can't be positive in February and March, what hope do you have? But the optimism the Nationals displayed in West Palm Beach over their bolstered bullpen was genuine. They legitimately...
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How improved bullpen could make up for loss of Rendon

How improved bullpen could make up for loss of Rendon
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - So much mental energy has been spent this winter trying to figure out how the Nationals are going to account for the loss of Anthony Rendon's production. Here's one potential way they could do it: by having a better bullpen. It may not seem one has anything to do with the other at first glance, but the Nats actually do view this as a realistic way to make up for the loss of Rendon without adding another big bat to their lineup. The idea is simple: If you can't score...
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Nats hope improved depth leads to improved bullpen

Nats hope improved depth leads to improved bullpen
As spring training fast approaches, it's time to break down the state of the Nationals roster, position by position. The series continues today with the bullpen ... We know the Nationals bullpen was terrible last season. That's not news to anyone. How bad was it, though? And, more importantly, why was it so bad? The stat most often cited throughout the ordeal that was the 2019 regular season was the Nats' bullpen ERA: 5.66. That was worst in the majors, and worst by any major league bullpen...
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Doolittle impressed with additions to Nats bullpen

Doolittle impressed with additions to Nats bullpen
Like most of the Nationals, there was far more rest than post-postseason shenanigans for reliever Sean Doolittle. And considering how much Doolittle pitched down the stretch and how much the Nationals relied on him in the postseason, the left-handed definitely needed the mental floss in the formative weeks of the offseason. But as the calendar turned to December and the bulk of baseball's roster machinations, Doolittle took careful note of what the Nationals were doing -specifically, how much...
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Remade bullpen looks promising, but is it enough?

Remade bullpen looks promising, but is it enough?
The Nationals bullpen, way back on July 30, 2019, was a mess. Sean Doolittle was beginning to show signs of fatigue from his excessive (but necessary) workload through the season's first four months. Fernando Rodney was his setup man and occasional fill-in closer. Wander Suero was pitching nearly every night. The rest of the unit included Tanner Rainey, Javy Guerra, Tony Sipp, Matt Grace and Michael Blazek. So Mike Rizzo, as he has been forced to do more than once during his tenure as general...
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Source: Hudson returning to Nats on two-year deal

Source: Hudson returning to Nats on two-year deal
Turns out last week's signing of Will Harris didn't prohibit the Nationals from bringing back Daniel Hudson. Hudson and the Nats are finalizing a new deal that would keep the veteran reliever in D.C. for two more seasons at the fairly reasonable price of $11 million (plus incentives), a source familiar with the terms confirmed this afternoon. Once completed, Hudson would rejoin a Nationals bullpen that on paper looks much stronger now than it did for most of the 2019 season, when it ranked...
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Rizzo wants to improve bullpen now, not next summer

Rizzo wants to improve bullpen now, not next summer
SAN DIEGO - The Nationals won the World Series despite boasting - if that's the proper word for it - the majors' worst bullpen during the regular season. They managed to pull that remarkable feat off thanks to two key developments along the way: The acquisition of Daniel Hudson at the July 31 trade deadline, and the willingness of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin to make a combined seven relief appearances in between their respective starts during the postseason. Somehow, it...
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Is it time to use top relievers even when trailing late?

Is it time to use top relievers even when trailing late?
MINNEAPOLIS - It may not have mattered in the end, because the Nationals still needed to score if they were going to win Tuesday night's game, and they never did. Nonetheless, Davey Martinez's bullpen usage in the bottom of the eighth of what wound up a 5-0 loss to the Twins merits a closer look, and a thorough explanation from the manager, because it left more than a few people asking questions. The situation: The Nationals trailed the Twins 2-0, with both runs having scored on Mitch...
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Bullpen gets two key arms back, drops Grace from roster

Bullpen gets two key arms back, drops Grace from roster
The Nationals made more changes to their ever-changing bullpen today, and there's still one more big change to come in a few days that could finally solidify that group for the season's final month. The Nats activated Roenis Elías off the injured list and Hunter Strickland off the paternity leave list this afternoon, bringing all three relievers acquired on July 31 together again after a long wait. Needing to clear roster spots, they designated struggling Matt Grace for assignment and...
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Elías moving closer to return after bullpen session (Nats up 5-2)

Elías moving closer to return after bullpen session (Nats up 5-2)
CHICAGO - The left-hander the Nationals went out of their way to acquire at the trade deadline is getting closer to rejoining the active roster. Roenis Elías, who strained his hamstring in his team debut, threw off the bullpen mound at Wrigley Field this morning. If the session went well, he should be able to ramp up his rehab and potentially come off the injured list in short order. "We'll have to evaluate how he does today," manager Davey Martinez said, "and then we'll go from...
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Now on IL, Doolittle knows he must "hit pause and reset"

Now on IL, Doolittle knows he must "hit pause and reset"
PITTSBURGH - Sean Doolittle knew his mechanics were out of whack, knew he wasn't getting life and spin on his fastball the way he always had, knew his arm and body were fatigued. He also believed he could battle his way through it and still pitch effectively for a Nationals team that seemed to need him for the ninth inning way more nights of the week than it didn't. But after watching the Brewers torch him for three homers in the span of four batters during his latest blown save Saturday...
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As Doolittle deals with summer grind, Nats bringing back Holland

As Doolittle deals with summer grind, Nats bringing back Holland
Sean Doolittle admitted it. After pitching for the 52nd time in 118 games - a rate that leaves him on pace to establish a new career high with 71 appearances by season's end - and in five of the Nationals' last seven games, the club's closer admitted his gas tank is running low. "I mean, that's 5-of-7, in the middle of August, in the first season (in a long time) where I'm still going," Doolittle said with a chuckle. "I haven't put together a season like this in a while. I'm starting...
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With deeper bullpen, Nats finally confident closing out games

With deeper bullpen, Nats finally confident closing out games
SAN FRANCISCO - As the bottom of the ninth played out Wednesday afternoon at Oracle Park, the Giants getting an RBI double from Brandon Crawford and suddenly threatening to make things interesting, Davey Martinez might have been tempted to send Sean Doolittle or Fernando Rodney down to the bullpen to start warming up. Only a week or two ago, that's probably what would've happened. If a game was close late, Martinez would have felt compelled to at least warm up his closer or primary backup,...
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Nationals reach trade deadline with clear-cut needs

Nationals reach trade deadline with clear-cut needs
The Nationals have known for the better part of four months now they were going to need to upgrade their bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline. And for four months, they've tried every trick in the book to address their most glaring need without breaking the bank or dealing away top prospects. Today we finally find out if they're willing to do something bold and fix this problem area once and for all. The countdown to the 4 p.m. trade deadline is on, and the pressure's on general manager...
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Nats facing major obstacles as trade deadline approaches

Nats facing major obstacles as trade deadline approaches
ATLANTA - As he tries to navigate his way through these final days before the July 31 trade deadline, Mike Rizzo has to cope with the following realties: * The Nationals need bullpen help. * Their list of desirable prospects isn't nearly as long as it has been in the past. * They can't afford to take on much more salary without surpassing the league's luxury tax threshold, something the organization is openly saying it won't do. * Almost every contending team is also in the market for...
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Nats asking Venters, Rodney to help stabilize improving 'pen

Nats asking Venters, Rodney to help stabilize improving 'pen
MIAMI - Jonny Venters has been called up to join major league rosters under more noteworthy circumstances than this, from his major league debut with the Braves in 2010 to his return in 2018 following a six-year layoff. That doesn't mean the 34-year-old reliever didn't still get that familiar feeling of accomplishment when he got the call Monday to join the Nationals in Miami. "I couldn't have been more excited, especially with the way this team's been playing lately," he said. "And...
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Source: Veteran Venters also joining Nats bullpen tonight

Source: Veteran Venters also joining Nats bullpen tonight
MIAMI - The Nationals are going to give another veteran reliever with shaky numbers so far this season a chance to help their bullpen during this final stretch before the All-Star break. Jonny Venters, the longtime Braves left-hander who has overcome what he describes as "3 1/2" Tommy John surgeries, will be promoted from Double-A Harrisburg before tonight's series opener against the Marlins, a source familiar with the transaction confirmed. Venters, 34, joins right-hander Fernando Rodney,...
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