Too soon for Nats to panic about bullpen?

Ben Krimmel
April 04, 2019 - 10:00 am
The Washington Nationals bullpen has struggled mightily.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

The Bullpen: A place beyond the left-field wall at Nationals Park where Washington Nationals fans go to drink.

The Nationals bullpen: A place beyond the right-field wall at Nationals Park which makes Nats fans want to drink.

Yes, it has only been five games, but it hasn't been pretty. At all.

While the Nationals were able to earn their second win of the season Thursday, they first let a 6-2 lead over the Phillies slip in another poor outing by Washington's relievers.

“Oh, we needed (the win),” Manager Dave Martinez said. “And it’s kind of a bittersweet win. I’m not thrilled about how we’re playing, but I’m happy that the boys kept pushing."

The numbers tell a depressing tale: In 16 1/3 innings, relievers have allowed 29 hits, nine walks, and 20 runs. Ouch.

The bullpen's ERA in the first five games: 11.02. Yikes, yikes, yikes. 

Too soon to panic?

Most concerning for the Nationals? Every reliever has allowed multiple hits and all but two have allowed multiple runs. And worst of all, poor Trevor Rosenthal can't buy a single out.

In three appearances, Rosenthal has allowed four hits, issued three walks, and surrendered seven runs. He has thrown 31 pitches and has yet to record an out.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating just 'cause of the results. Working with the bullpen, I don’t want to put other guys in tough spots,” Rosenthal said. “I feel very optimistic and frustrated at the same time because I feel so good (physically). I feel like I’m so close and just kind of need to get the wheels spinning a bit and take off. It’s a little bit of frustration, but also I’m encouraged by how I feel."

Martinez, who doesn't seem panicked about the 'pen yet, said he plans to sit down with Rosenthal.

“We gotta sit down and just kind of ... I mean, the ball’s coming out good,” Martinez said Thursday. “He’s a high-energy guy. We gotta figure out a way to calm him down a little bit. Every time I go get the ball, he doesn’t want to come out. He wants to keep going and keep going. But I’m not going to give up on him, that’s for sure. We need him. If we’re going to do this, we need Rosenthal.”

Rosenthal thinks his struggles come from trying to be too precise.

“I think I’m just trying to be too perfect,” Rosenthal said. “Just making the perfect pitch at the perfect time in the perfect spot. I think that’s more of the issue."

And while many may clamor for Washington to sign free agent closer Craig Kimbrel, that is unlikely as the Nationals have made it clear further spending is unlikely due to a desire to stay below the luxury tax threshold.

“It’s a pretty severe penalty if you go over and it’s been our goal all year to stay under that,” Nats owner Mark Lerner told NBC Sports Washington in February.

However, the Nats could change their stance if the bullpen's struggles continue.

And while it may be too soon for panic, the Nationals need to find an answer. And fast.

Follow Ben Krimmel and 106.7 The Fan on Twitter.

Related: