I would prioritize Madson over Doolittle.
The Nationals need for relief pitching has been one of the worst kept secrets in baseball.
The Nationals had been looking to bolster their bull pen, which ranks dead last in the National League with an opponents batting average of.278. Opposing batters are also hitting.280 with an.825 OPS against Nats relievers, both the worst marks in Major League Baseball.
Washington has already blown 14 saves this season. Those numbers, combined with Washington’s recent postseason history of dramatic bullpen meltdowns, have made adding relievers a priority in the nation’s capital.
Thus far, it has been their offense that overshadowed the Nationals serious bullpen issues.
In three career starts against the Nationals, Feldman is 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA, 16 strikeouts and eight walks in 18 innings. He walked four batters and allowed hits to another three, including a pair of two-run singles to Ryon Healy and Jaycob Brugman, before manager Terry Francona removed him from the game. Doolittle’s ERA is higher than Madson’s at 3.38, but his FIP is 2.35 and he has an outstanding 31:2 K:BB in 21.1 innings.
“Really what’s been missing the last 20 years is keeping these players”, Beane told a mediatronic throng before Sunday’s 7-3 win over Cleveland. The Athletics would stand to get a good return for them if they are dealt.
Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer entered the game allowing a.342 on-base percentage (sixth-highest in the AL) and 1.47 WHIP (ninth-highest in the AL), both metrics took a hit in the first.
From a depth perspective, Madson and Doolittle will bring manager Dusty Baker flexibility in the later innings.
Both pitchers are under contract through the 2018 season. Doolittle, a lefty, is the likely closer candidate while the righty Madson sets up. He’s the best pitcher in the Nationals bullpen now, but he’s also left-handed and that could mean slotting into an eighth inning role he has for much of his career. He most recently pitched in the 2015 playoffs for the Kansas City Royals. The big lefty embraced the advantage, leading the Athletics to Sunday’s 7-3 throttling of Cleveland.
Left-hander Doolittle also has closing experience, having saved 22 games (with 89 strikeouts in 62.2 innings) in 2014. When healthy, Doolittle – who missed six weeks earlier this season with shoulder problems – has been just as good, if not better.
Doolittle and Madson were both signed through next season and the Nationals have agreed to take on all 11+ million that those two players would have cost.
After whiffing on the big three of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon in free agency last winter, the Nats initially anointed the unproven Treinen, who quickly proved that, good as he was in setup duty previous year, he wasn’t ready for prime time. Washington could probably stand to add more bullpen depth for the middle innings, but Madson and Doolittle will go a long way toward shoring up the biggest weakness on a team that now looks poised to battle the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL pennant this October.