In a constant effort to improve the bullpen, the Nationals finally made a trade. Both Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle will pitch in the Nation’s capital.
The Washington Nationals have been on a season-long hunt to find their next closer. The team has seven relievers with at least one save this season. The revolving door at the closer job doesn’t do the team any favors. That door may be done moving for good as it was reported that the Nationals made a trade for both Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle.
The Oakland A’s have also been inconsistent in the ninth inning but it looks like Santiago Casilla has the position on lockdown. With Oakland being out of the playoff hunt and looking to rebuild, the team was willing to part ways with two of their best bullpen arms.
With both pitchers joining the National League, how does this impact fantasy baseball?
The Nationals haven’t needed to use a closer often as they are blowing teams out of the water. Their last two save chances went to left-hander Matt Grace. The previous closer Koda Glover landed on the 10-day DL with lower back stiffness and severe rotator cuff inflammation.
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The team also used Shawn Kelley, Matt Albers and Blake Treinen in the closer role. The latter is a part of the trade and will pitch with the A’s in the second half. The Nationals bullpen owns a league-worst 5.34 ERA, so a move is long overdue.
If you play in an NL-only league and you didn’t spend all of your budget on Jose Quintana, I would spend a significant amount of either Madson or Doolittle. If you can swing both, then go for it.
Both relievers have good numbers this season. Madson has a 2.06 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 39 strikeouts and six walks in 39.1 innings. Doolittle has pitched in just 21.1 innings and has a 3.38 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 31 strikeouts and two walks.
While neither man was getting saves, they were pitching well to help lower your team’s ratios. Yet, Madson was owned in just 10.0 percent and Doolittle owned in 10.5 percent of ESPN leagues. That is way too low, even for non-save relievers.
I do expect one of the newly acquired relievers to take over the ninth-inning job for the Nationals. I don’t see the team continuing with Grace or Glover when he returns from injury. Both Madson and Doolittle have closer experience. They could also go with a committee as Madson is a righty and Doolittle is a lefty.
Madson’s and Doolittle’s ownership percentages should go up as a result of the trade in mixed leagues. Madson also has experience pitching in the NL East when he was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Madson is 36 years old, so his future isn’t as bright. Doolittle is 30 with plenty left in the tank. I like both pitchers moving to the NL for the rest of this season. Doolittle is likely the team’s closer for the next couple of years, making him a top-12 closer pick next year.