The Nationals lost Bryce Harper in the offseason, rather than try and find a real replacement for the star power they filled in other needs and made them stronger. Adding Patrick Corbin, strengthening their already stout rotation, also adding Brian Dozier to fill a need on the infield that has been a problem for a long time.
They started the season in a funk, dealing with injuries and inconsistent play. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman and Trea Turner all spent time on the DL. On May 24ththe Nationals were 12 games under .500. Manager Dave Martinez was sitting on the hottest of seats, it looked as if the Nationals would have to consider selling and selling anything and everything.
Washington has begun to turn it around but had one fatal flaw. They currently have the worst bullpen in all of baseball with an ERA of 5.97 and a BAA of .274. With the bats getting healthy the one thing holding them back was bonafide gas can of a bullpen. They addressed those issues during the final day of the trade deadline. They added pieces that under the radar of most will be huge pickups down the stretch run of the season.
You can look at Roenis Elias’s numbers and not be blown away. 4.14 ERA going along with .419 wOBA given up to lefties are not numbers you would look for in a late inning reliever, but Elias brings more to the table then just a specialist. His ability to shut down right-handed bats is intriguing. The converted starter has held righties to just a .341 slugging percentage and a .243 wOBA. He has found a way to get out the reverse side of the plate. Elias also added a surprising 14 saves in 16 opportunities on a team that literally seemed to have given up. He has proven himself to be a stable force in the backend of the bullpen.
The Toronto Blue Jays unloaded a lot of pitching over the trade deadline and Daniel Hudson could be the quiet prize of them all. Hudson is a strikeout machine against righties averaging 11.71 K/9 this season. Hudson has been a journeyman throughout his career, currently in the midst of a career year, he will most likely be given the chance to take over the 8thinning duties in front of closer Sean Doolittle.
Elias, Hudson and fireballer Hunter Strickland were not flashy moves by the Nationals. Their lack of farm system depth was not going to allow them to make a move for the likes of All-Star Shane Greene, but these are underrated moves that will fill a need that was holding back the Nationals. The aforementioned Greene was picked up by their division counterparts the Atlanta Braves, who seem to have a lock on the NL East barring in major injuries. Still I believe that this Nationals team will end up having one of the most successful trade deadlines that no one is talking about. Suring up the bullpen was the one thing that they HAD to do to continue their monumental recovery from a disastrous start to the season.