MLB insider Ken Rosenthal reports the Washington Nationals are putting their focus on acquiring two members of the Oakland Athletics bullpen. To no one’s amazement, it’s relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson they have their eyes on.
Doolittle and Madson are no strangers to Nationals trade rumors. The lefty/righty pairing, affordable contracts and minimal yet successful experience as closers make perfect trade candidates. It’s also helpful that the Athletics are losing often and need some outfield prospects, which the Nationals have plenty of. On paper, the match is ideal.
Though Doolittle is several years removed from his 2014 All-Star campaign, he has pitched well over the past two seasons. Injuries derailed him from becoming a huge star. Fortunately, he remained consistent with an ERA often in the low 3.00s each year in his career even in 2015 when he spent most of the year sidelined.
This season, Doolittle is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA. More impressive is that he is striking out batters at a rate of 13.1 per nine and has only two walks all season through 21 1/3 frames.
To the surprise of many, Madson is the better pitcher this year. After a decent season as the Athletics closer last year, Madson returned to the mound in 2017 in a setup role behind Santiago Casilla. This appears more appropriate for the 36-year-old who currently owns a 2.06 ERA through nearly 40 innings.
Both Doolittle and Madson would conceivably help the Nationals bullpen turn things around. Only Matt Albers and Enny Romero are pitching well at the moment. After the disastrous performance by Trevor Gott and Austin Adams on Saturday, it’s apparent Washington cannot wait to repair their broken bullpen.
A shift from the American League West to the National League East should conceivably help improve Doolittle and Madson’s numbers. For many reasons including Oakland’s desperation, this is a deal no one should expect to go away.