Nats' bullpen blunders ahead of crucial series vs. Braves

Ben Krimmel
July 18, 2019 - 10:21 am

The Washington Nationals got everything they could have asked out of starting pitcher Erick Fedde Wednesday night in Baltimore.

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In the race to be the Nats' fifth starter, Fedde scattered five hits over six innings allowing just one earned run. And he needed only 66 pitches to record 18 outs. 

But at the start of the bottom of the seventh inning with Washington up 2-1, manager Davey Martinez turned to the bullpen and Wander Suero

And yadda, yadda, yadda the hapless Orioles came out 9-2 winners. To add insult to injury, Chris Davis had the go-ahead RBI off Suero.

So, why did Martinez remove Fedde who appeared to be in total control of the game following an eight-pitch sixth? 

"It was his first time pitching in 14 days and that was good enough," Martinez said after the game. "He got us to the sixth inning and we had Suero ready to go, but Fedde did well." 

“I didn't want to stretch (Fedde) out that far knowing that he’s had two weeks off.”

Fedde, who returned to the big leagues after making a start in the minors on July 2, was pleased with his performance.

"Things went well," he said. "I think they really started to pick up later. Maybe I was still getting decent results, but I felt a lot better with the sharpness of them.

More: 7 key questions facing Nats in the second half

“They told me (the pitch count) was more of a safety thing in a sense, which I can always respect,” Fedde said. “Just one of those ones wish I could've gone more but have to respect the decision.”

But the decision was a brick.

Suero walked the first batter he faced and finished his 1/3 inning of work with three earned runs allowed. 

"He just struggled throwing strikes," Martinez said of Suero.

After the game, Suero told reporters his head wasn't in the game after he received "bad news" about a personal matter before the game. News Suero did not share with his manager.

Tony Sipp, Javy Guerra, and Matt Grace followed out of the bullpen and all struggled to close the door. The bullpen's final line on Wednesday in Baltimore: eight runs (six earned) and nine hits over two innings.

Washington relievers now have an ERA of 6.02, second-worst in the big leagues. 

On The Sports Junkies, Jason Bishop added while the decision backfired on Martinez, there is plenty of blame to go around.

"By the way blame the lineup as much as Davey because they got five hits off an Orioles pitching staff that sucks," Bishop said.

And the path doesn't get any easier for the Nationals with a four-game series against the NL East-leading Braves. 

“I’ve got all the faith in the world these guys will be up for it and ready," Martinez said about the series in Atlanta

With 14 days to the lone trade deadline in the 2019 season, the Nats GM Mike Rizzo will have some big calls to make about possibly giving up prospects to solidify a bullpen that has failed to get the job done.

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