Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

A's trade Doolittle in 5-player deal with Nationals

A's trade Doolittle in 5-player deal with Nationals

The move reunites Doolittle with his former University of Virginia teammate Ryan Zimmerman. As of Sunday, the Nationals ranked dead last in baseball in reliever ERA with a 5.34 mark. With 14 blown saves, the bullpen's shortcomings force the starter's to go the extra mile and their 556 innings of work is the more than any other rotation in baseball. But his ERA jumped to 3.62 from 2.13 and his WHIP flared to 1.284 from 0.963. Since returning to the majors in 2015, his ERA in the ninth inning (3.43) is more than a run higher than it is in the seventh and eighth (2.26).

Whatever the Nationals have to give up at the deadline, whether it's for Doolittle and Madson or somebody else, it's going to cost them.

Though the A's bullpen as a unit has had similar struggles this season to Washington's, Madson and Doolittle were not complicit in those struggles. He has a 39:6 strikeout:walk ratio and has allowed just two home runs in 2017. The good news is that the package above doesn't hamstring them in terms of available minor league talent from making another deal.

From a depth perspective, Madson and Doolittle will bring manager Dusty Baker flexibility in the later innings.

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Madson meanwhile, has a 2.11 ERA, one save, and 38 strikeouts in 38.1 innings in Oakland this season. Then there's Doolittle, who was an All-Star closer in 2014, when he saved 22 games for the A's. Doolittle is particularly devastating against lefties; he hasn't allowed a hit against one this season in 23 at-bats. Injury issues are an issue as he missed 41 days this year with arm issues.

Per a Ken Rosenthal report on Saturday, the Nationals are working to "trying to acquire" two of the Oakland Athletics' relievers. Madson will be a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, while Doolittle's contract calls for two team option years in 2019 and 2020.

To the surprise of many, Madson is the better pitcher this year. Both pitchers have closing experience as well, and would be major upgrades to a Washington bullpen that hasn't found consistency in the closer role all season.

After whiffing on the big three of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon in free agency last winter, the Nats initially anointed the unproven Treinen, who quickly proved that, good as he was in setup duty a year ago, he wasn't ready for prime time.

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