One day after five relievers combined to give up seven runs
and nearly blow a 10-0 lead, the Nationals finally made a move to address their floundering bullpen.
The Nationals acquired veteran relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from the Athletics on Saturday, giving Washington much-needed bulk as well as quality. The Nats sent veteran reliever Blake Treinen and prospects Sheldon Neuse and Jesus Luzardo to Oakland in exchange. Neuse and Luzardo were the Nationals second- and third-round picks in the 2016 draft.
Doolittle and Madson will join a Nationals club that entered the day last in the majors with a 5.34 bullpen ERA.
Neuse led the Big 12 Conference with a .646 slugging percentage at Oklahoma in 2016 and was drafted by the Nationals in the second round, No. 58 overall. He ranked as the Nats No. 17 prospect entering this season. Neuse has a short, compact swing and uses the whole field to hit but isn’t afraid to take bigger hacks when trying to drive the ball, resulting in the ability to hit for both average and power. Neuse touched 95 mph off the mound in college and has an exceptional arm that will allow him to stay on the left side of the diamond. He played shortstop in college and most of this season but projects to third base, for which his range is better suited. Overall Neuse projects as a power-hitting third baseman, although some evaluators think he projects best at catcher.
Luzardo entered his senior season in 2016 considered a potential first-round pick before having Tommy John surgery in March. The Nationals drafted him in the third round, No. 94 overall, and signed him for $1.4 million anyway. Luzardo showed no ill effects from the surgery in his return to the mound this year. He sat in the mid-90s and touched 98 mph in extended spring training while flashing a potential plus curveball and a changeup that earned some 70 grades, all with excellent control, and was one of the players that earned the most buzz from scouts in the spring. Luzardo carried it into the season by going 1-0, 1.32 with 15 strikeouts and no walks in 13.2 innings in the GCL. He has the body, stuff, and track record to develop into a quality lefthanded starter as long as he stays healthy.
|GCL Nationals (Rookie)||1||0||1.32||3||3||0||13.2||14||1||0||15||.259|
Treinen began the season as the Nationals closer but lost the job in just two weeks. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound righthander features a power 97 mph sinker and swing-and-miss slider, but a lack of command, particularly in high-leverage situations, led to a 5.73 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 37 appearances. Treiner posted a career 2.91 ERA and 1.33 WHIP before this season, so the Athletics can hope this half-season was an anomaly and Treinen can return to a setup-caliber reliever.
The one-time All-Star closer has settled into an upper-tier setup role and been exceptional this season, allowing only 12 hits in 21.1 innings with 31 strikeouts and two walks. Doolittle is capable against both righthanded hitters (.599 career OPS) and lefthanded hitters (.512 OPS) and immediately slides into a late-inning role with the Nats.
Madson staged a storybook comeback after missing all of 2012, 2013, and 2014 and unofficially retiring from the game. Since his return in 2015, Madson has proved durable and effective with 2.69 ERA in 171 appearances. His strikeout rate and walk rate are the best they’ve been since his return to the game and, like Doolittle, he brings experience both as a closer and setup man.