SNIDER: Did Nats buy postseason chance through better bullpen?

Rick Snider
July 31, 2019 - 5:59 pm
Did Nats buy postseason chance through better bullpen?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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The Nationals needed a victory over the Atlanta Braves and some pitching help at the trade deadline on Wednesday to remain a valid playoff contender. Washington lost 5-4 in 10 innings but changed nearly half the bullpen by acquiring three arms for minor-league prospects.

The Nats' playoff hopes aren't dead, but they're limping along. Washington lost two of three to Atlanta in an NL East showdown that leaves the Nats 6.5 games behind the Braves. A 19-31 start is finally catching up to Washington. They're just not able to catch the Braves. Indeed, they've made up no ground over three weeks since the All-Star break and sit a mediocre 57-51.

The Nats obtained inexpensive arms for prospects, which keeps Washington from luxury tax penalties without giving up anyone significant. Then again, they didn't really gain any prominent players, so maybe this was just shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

Toronto reliever Daniel Hudson was the biggest move. Hudson is 6-3 with a 3.00 earned run average and two saves over 48 innings. The 32-year-old should fill a late-inning role which — aside Sean Doolittle — has been a burial ground for the Nats. When Doolittle surrenders a game-losing home run to Atlanta on Wednesday, things can't look bleaker.

Related: Nationals acquire three relievers ahead of trade deadline

Gaining Seattle's Roenis Elias fills a left-handed reliever role. Elias' 14 saves in 44 appearances give Washington options. Now Strickland, that's a bemusing move.

Remember when the then-San Francisco reliever hit Bryce Harper with a 98 mph fastball in 2017, to cause a brawl that ended Giants outfielder Michael Morse's career? Now Strickland can pitch to Harper on behalf of the Nats when playing Philadelphia. Go figure.

But, Strickland just came off the injured list with a lat strain on Sunday after pitching only three games this season. If healthy, he can help. But, you can only wonder if the Nats would have made this deal if Harper was still in Washington.

The Nats needed to do something. Maybe these moves will lead to a wild card slot and then who knows. But mostly, the Nats' chances are who knows.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks