Martinez after latest bullpen meltdown: 'I don't know what else to do'

Josh Luckenbaugh
August 14, 2018 - 8:44 am
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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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If Sunday night's walk-off loss to the Cubs was the dagger in the Nationals' season, Monday's 7-6 loss to the Cardinals drove the blade even deeper into Washington hearts.

The Nats built a 4-2 lead through seven innings, only to see the bullpen give up four runs in the bottom of the eighth. However, the offense rallied in the ninth with two runs to tie the game at six. 

In the bottom of the inning, however, Paul DeJong greeted Koda Glover with a walk-off homer.

The depleted state of the Nats bullpen forced Glover, who returned to the bullpen less than a week ago, into the high-leverage situation. Sean Doolittle and Kelvin Herrera are on the disabled list, Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley have been shipped away, and now Ryan Madson has an ailing back. 

"It's tough when you have your closer, your set-up guy, your seventh inning guy all be out," Davey Martinez said after the game. "So we just got to keep battling. These other guys, they got to step up. They're getting put in big moments."

As of now, the "other guys" have not stepped up. Sammy Solis, who also gave up the lead in last Friday's loss to Chicago, surrendered the Matt Carpenter two-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth that gave St. Louis a 6-4 lead.

Solis was supposed to be the left-handed specialist in the Nats bullpen, but that simply hasn't happened. Lefties are slugging .529 off Solis, and Martinez admitted he has no clue how to get Solis out of his funk.

"I don't know what else to do," Martinez said. "He's got to get lefties out, I put him up against lefties. I know it's not easy, but that's his job. And he hasn't been able to do that."

Solis and the rest of the bullpen's recent struggles have also highlighted one of Washington's most glaring flaws all season long: the Nats stink in one-run games. 

In 2016 and 2017 combined, the Nats went 56-40 in games decided by one run. Both years, they won the NL East with relative ease.

Nothing has come easy for the Nats this season, and a bullpen that was considered a strength before the season has imploded. Washington now sits seven games behind in the NL East, and the Nats' playoff hopes are on life support. 

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