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Now is the time for the Washington Nationals to address bullpen issues

Now is the time for the Washington Nationals to address bullpen issues

Early on the 2017 season has established that the Washington Nationals are in desperate need for a bullpen makeover.

Through 37 games, and a 24-13 record, non-starters have accounted for seven of the teams 13 losses.

Of the remaining six losses given to the starters, one was behind the arm of Jeremy Guthrie who allowed 12 runs in only two outs of the first inning on April 8. Following the disastrous performance, Guthrie has since opted for free agency after the Nationals sent him down to a minor league assignment. 

Essentially, the Nationals five starters have accounted for a record of 14-5 (A.J. Cole has also earned a win in his lone start). 

From there, Washington has been in 19 save situations. Of those 19 situations, the bullpen was able to pull out 11 saves. That leaves eight blown saves for the bullpen, only a 58 percent success rate. 

Fortunately for the Nationals, the bats rallied and prevented four of those games from becoming losses. Still, it remains a problem and it is one that the National have plenty of time to address.

Here is a look at the main bulk of the bullpen for the Nationals: 

Enny Romero: 2-1, 17 games, 4.86 ERA, 16.2 IP, one save, two blown saves

Blake Treinen: 0-1, 17 games, 8.10 ERA, 16.2 IP, three saves, one blown save

Matt Albers: 2-0, 14 games, 0.61 ERA, 16.1 IP, two saves, one blown save

Joe Blanton: 0-2, 14 games, 9.49 ERA, 12.1 IP

Shawn Kelley: 3-1, 13 games, 7.15 ERA, 11.1 IP, three saves, two blown saves

Koda Glover: 0-1, 13 games, 3.38 ERA, 10.2 IP, two saves, one blown save

Oliver Perez: 0-0, 10 games, 4.32 ERA, 8.1 IP

Only one of the bullpen pitchers average a sub-3.00 ERA, which is difficult to do when you are only averaging one-to-two innings a game. As a whole, the bullpen has a 5.53 ERA on the season, third worst in the majors ahead of only San Diego (5.41) and Detroit (5.60). 

As long as the rest of the NL East continues to struggle, there will be no issue with Washington making the postseason with the bats being able to carry them. To become championship contenders though, the backup pitchers need to figure it out. Dusty Baker will have chances to move guys around, like Albers, into a closer role. If not, soon it will become time for the front office to look elsewhere.

Reminder, the non-waiver trade deadline is July 31st. 

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Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg in the first inning of the right-hander's first start in almost a month and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 Saturday night.

Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to the switch-hitting Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.

Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.

He hadn't pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.

While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.

San Diego's Travis Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches but didn't allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods' throwing error on Strasburg's sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.

Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.

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Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in place of injured Max Scherzer and Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff homer and drove in two runs to help the Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 7-1 on Friday night.

Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sore neck. Grace and five relievers held San Diego to four hits.

Grace, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and pitched at UCLA, made his first big league start and his first start since 2012 when he was with Single-A Potomac. It was his 61st big league appearance.

The left-hander allowed two hits, struck out one and walked one. He retired Cory Spangenberg on a grounder to open the fifth and manager Dusty Baker came out to get him after 52 pitches.

Shawn Kelley came on and with one out allowed Dusty Coleman's solo homer into the second deck in left field, his fourth.

Joe Blanton (2-2) pitched a scoreless sixth for the win.

Kendrick homered to left on the third pitch from Luis Perdomo, his sixth leadoff shot this season and seventh homer overall. Kendrick also hit an RBI single with no outs in the seventh to chase Perdomo and give the Nationals a 5-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza hit a sacrifice fly one batter earlier.

Adam Lind hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Washington's Michael A. Taylor robbed Yangervis Solarte of a home run with a perfectly timed leap to catch the ball above the 396 sign in center field leading off the second, and right fielder Andrew Stevenson made a nice running catch of Wil Myers' fly ball with a runner on third to end the fourth.

Perdomo (6-8) allowed five runs, three earned, and six hits while striking out five and walking three.