The #Nats bullpen goes from a weakness to a strength

Who knew there was a “Bullpen of the Week” award sponsored by The Hartford Insurance Company?  The Washington Nationals bullpen won their first ever award this past week. The bullpen award began last season as a recognition of bullpens then in May of 2016 they started awarding it based on an industry wide panel with Bill James as they created a calculation to give it a firm scoring system.

Here’s how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:

• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save

If you search on this link you will see past winners and also a familiar face on April 30th of 2016.

“The Firm” and their new Junior Partner (since July 21st) Matt Albers have been dominant in closing out 11 wins in that span with no blown leads or losses. It has been an incredible run, and with the absence of Ryan Madson, Dusty Baker has had to rely on Brandon Kintzler for the 8th inning “holds” with Sean Doolittle still finishing the games.

From the date Mike Rizzo acquired Madson and Doolittle in the blockbuster trade with the Oakland Athletics, the Nationals previously beleaguered bullpen now has been the best in the Majors with top ranks in 2 important categories: OPS (.593) and 0 blown saves. What that means is the team hasn’t blown a lead in the bullpen after the 5th inning and team’s aren’t hitting them well in getting on-base plus power.

It was unfortunate that Madson injured his finger, but it has once again given Matt Albers the opportunity to step-up again in a higher leverage role.

This weekend was extremely onerous on the bullpen as they had to cover 9-full innings out of the bullpen to cover for Max Scherzer who was scratched from his start on Friday. Matt Grace stepped in as the starter on Friday and pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings followed by 4 2/3 innings of 1-run relief by his mates.

The bullpen has gone from a liability to one of the strongest parts of the team as shown where the bullpen can give reliable length now to allow Dusty Baker to relieve his starters before the 7th inning.

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