Yes, I know it's "woes" but "woes" doesn't convey the amazing turn from "maybe the best pen they've ever had" to where they are now. The Nats best bullpen arm currently is Matt Albers. He's got an 0.77 ERA which is backed up by a 0.600 WHIP. He's only pitched 11.2 innings so you have to take that into account but it's roughly the same amount of innings any Nats reliever has pitched.
The second best reliever is probably Koda Glover, who despite posting a 4.15 ERA has pitched better than that as his 0.923 WHIP and 1.96 FIP attest. Of course he's injured. So the second best active is likely Enny Romero. Enny has a 4.40 ERA, and deservedly so. While he's managed to keep his walks down he's been very hittable and has given up a few long balls in his limited innings. An ERA of 4.50 is probably fair.
I'm going to repeat that
So the second best active is likely Enny Romero. Enny has a 4.40 ERA, and deservedly so. While he's managed to keep his walks down he's been very hittable and has given up a few long balls in his limited innings. An ERA of 4.50 is probably fair.
That above, is basically a "last guy in the pen" description, yet for the Nats it's describing their second best option. You don't need me to tell you this, but the Nats pen is in trouble.
You could see any one of these things happening. Injury issues with Koda and Kelley, who both finished last year with health troubles. Treinen failing. Blanton somehow crossing an age line and no longer being effective. Enny not living up to his talent. Oliver Perez not having a comeback. Matt Grace not surprising. But that all of them happened in the same 6 weeks? That's coming up snake-eyes a few rolls in a row.
The question now is what can the Nats do? The answer is precious little.
The Nats can sit and wait. This is what they are most likely going to do. As we discussed yesterday the NL East is terrible so the Nats are not feeling any pressure to do much. The offense is very good. The starting pitching is very good. They will be winning a lot of games by several runs heading into the late innings. They can sit and wait for Glover and Kelley to get healthy. They can sift through any number of AAAA arms to see if something clicks like Albers has so far. Then they can re-evaluate the situation at the usual time and look to make a trade as we head past the All-Star break into the dog days of August.
The Nats can try to make a move now for a great reliever. This is tougher. Few teams are truly out of it at this point, and those that are may not want to admit it. Thanks to the Wild Card, teams that were looking at division titles that are floundering still have hope. The Rangers (5 out), Blue Jays (5.5) and Giants (7.0) can still come up with scenarios that get them in. All you are left with are the teams that were trading before the year started (Padres, White Sox, probably Rays) and teams that were on the fence that are now far behind (Royals). Those are your four. Problem is - these guys know they are the four. They also know that as the season goes on the price goes up. To get a great reliever now would take a impressive offer. At the same time there haven't been many games to build up new prospects in the Nats system. You are going to have to give up a combination of players that includes Robles for sure, and probably Fedde and/or Soto and/or Keiboom the younger. The end result would be lopping the head off a system that's at best fair.
The Nats could make a move now for a solid reliever. This might be more doable than going after a Herrera type, but it would be introducing the same sort of question mark that got the Nats into trouble in the first place. Here is an ok reliever. Let's see what he can do. It may be a sound move logically, but it's not going to assuage anyone's fears.
The Nats could look at free agent relievers. Talk Matt Thornton back into the game. Sign Luke Hochevar and hope for the best. Honestly this may be the way to go although again - it doesn't solve the problem as much as bridge the gap to the time when a real solution is needed.
This is the reality for the Nats, or really any team with early season issues. If there are no good internal options, there are no good options. The Nats don't have to do anything so maybe they won't but I'd like to think they'd at least try to bridge the gap while continuously kicking the tires on better talent because hey - you never know.