PHILADELPHIA – Rainouts and doubleheaders are usually bad news for pitchers. A pregame or warmup routine can be thrown off if the game isn’t called until too close to the first pitch. And 18 innings, with the potential for more, are a lot to cover in a single day.
But for the Nationals, last night’s rainout and today’s doubleheader against the Phillies might actually benefit their pitching staff.
Despite a plethora of injuries, the Nats bullpen has been one of the best in baseball in recent weeks. The Nats currently have seven relievers on the injured list, with the latest casualty being Mason Thompson landing on the 15-day IL with a left knee contusion.
But over their last 16 games, the Nats bullpen has posted a collective 2.39 ERA, the best in the National League and third-best in the majors during that span. Relievers have also posted a 1.139 WHIP and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings over 52 ⅔ innings since July 21.
“I think we're starting to realize that we need to attack the strike zone and get ahead,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame press conference before yesterday’s postponement. “That's been the biggest difference right now for our bullpen guys is that we're really emphasizing getting ahead of hitters, attacking them early and not put yourself in a hole. And these guys have done that, and they've done really well.”