It's not that the Nats pen is bad. Bad pens happen, especially early in the year when the vagaries of small sample size and the "let's see if this guy with great stuff can hack it" philosophy reigns. It's how bad they are. Guys aren't just failing. They are blowing up.
Joe Blanton : ERA 10.13. Key Stats HR/FB 36.4%, Soft % 7.4% Hard % 44.4%, Velocities FB : 91MPH, Sinker : 87.5 MPH
has gotten a little worse around the edges. That's not to be unexpected
for an old pitcher coming off a surprisingly good year. But one thing has drastically changed and that's him giving up homers. He's not giving up more flyballs but guys are teeing off on what they are hitting and a decreased sinker velocity might be the reason. Blanton had gotten successful throwing a fast sinker that was - at least in speed - in distinguishable from the fastball. Now there's a clear difference between the two. Major league hitters are good enough to pick up on things like that. Of course his bread and butter is the slider. Zone info shows he's not as pinpoint as he was in 2016 with it. Could that be all it takes? For a one-pitch pitcher, maybe. I think the homers are a fluke but the big drop in effectiveness may not be.
Blake Treinen : ERA 9.82. Key Stats : H/9 19.6, BB9 7.4, FS% 46.5% (down from 57%)
The idea of Treinen as a closer was always a question mark because he put a lot of guys on base. He put balls in play and he walked them, but the hope was he could temper that and let double plays and maybe a few more strikeouts make him successful. But instead of ramping down hits and walks, they've jumped way up in the face of more patient batters just looking to put the ball in play. Is a .517 BABIP against going to last? Of course not. But even if it were half that his hits per 9 would be approaching 10. That's not good and paired with a crazy walk rate it's game over regardless of K's and DPs
If you want to be optimistic a lot of the fancy stats suggest Treinen is not pitching too different than last year. His issues are stemming from not keeping the ball down and not getting ahead on the batters (first strike % is way down). If he's not ahead batters don't chase. (swings outside the zone are down as well) But he's not a lights out guy if things are working and never has been. At 28/29 he's not a work in progress anymore. He's a high 3.00 ERA guy capable of getting a DP if needed.
Enny Romero : ERA 6.00. Key Stats : H/9 14.1, wFB -2.0, Soft 12.5%
A lot of times with guys like Enny you have an unhittable wild mess that you hope to get under control. Enny isn't that. Enny is completely hittable. So while he has gotten his walks down to an acceptable level (2.3 BB/9). He's giving up hit after hit. The second stat tells a story. It's kind of like "is your fastball good for you or not?". I usually ignore these stats, but for Enny they are telling. He's never had a good fastball. A fast fastball yes, but not a good one. So guys sit on it and when they get that fast juicy meatball they hit it and they hit it hard. Just like that FB stat - that soft percentage matches up with what his career numbers tell us. Guys make good contact against him. So unless you think Romero can survive on throwing nothing but sliders there's no place for him on a major league roster.
Oliver Perez : ERA 6.75. Key Stats .857 OPS vs LHB, 1.333 OPS vs RHB
There's barely any stats because he's barely pitched but the fact that he's barely pitched means the team buys into what these stats are saying which is Perez can't be used at any time. Last year he squeaked by because he was alright vs lefties and not terrible if he had to face a righty. So far both of those things are not true in 2017. He CAN'T face righties, and he's not good enough against lefties for that to be his thing. Now again - VERY few at bats, I mean so small that one hit/out change, changes the story, so the Nats should still try to LOOGY him but the early indications are not good.
Shawn Kelley : ERA 5.00. Key Stats; 60.9% FB, Soft% 4.3%
Just when you think you can't see a lower soft percentage here comes another one. Kelley, like Blanton, appears to be doing most everything about the same. But he has also given up 4 homers in a short period of time. Unlike Blanton though, this doesn't seem to be flukey. Kelley is giving up a lot more fly balls and he's not getting soft contact. A few of those balls are bound to leave the yard.
All these guys won't continue to fail this spectacularly. It would be crazy if they did. But the pen was only built to be "deep enough" with the inclusion of Blanton. You want 3 good arms and another 2 decent ones. Blanton gave them four supposedly good arms, though none 100% reliable. You hoped to work at least 2 good ones from those four, while finding a 3rd hopefully there too, but maybe elsewhere, and the other two just rising to the surface of the middle innings as the season went along. That still might happen (say Glover, Albers, and Kelley keeping the ball down) but as of today the path to those 5 arms is less clear. No one pitching bad is solely a victim of bad luck.