Nationals

Quick Links

Nationals plan to use ‘dual closers’ Doolittle and Hudson based on matchups

Nationals plan to use ‘dual closers’ Doolittle and Hudson based on matchups

Davey Martinez has two relievers capable of pitching in high-leverage situations at his disposal, but he’s not going to name either of them as the team’s bona fide closer moving forward.

The steady Daniel Hudson is back on the active roster after missing Game 1 of the NLCS to attend the birth of his daughter, while Sean Doolittle has regained his All-Star form after working his way back to pitching in high-leverage situations. While Doolittle was the team’s unquestioned closer for most of the season before he landed on the Injured List in August, Martinez is going to make pitching changes based on matchups and how rested his two prized relievers are.

“I said this all year, that in a perfect world [Doolittle is] our closer, he's done it, he understands it, he knows the role, he's good at it,” Martinez said Saturday before Game 2. “But we wanted to build him up. And now he's throwing the ball about as best as I've seen him throw the ball pretty much all year. His fastball is good, spin rate's good, he's a huge spin rate guy, and he's using other pitches very well. So with him and Huddie in the 8th and 9th and maybe in the 7th, I feel like we got a nice stopgap there.”

Hudson proved to be extremely valuable down the stretch, filling in for Doolittle while the left-hander was on the Injured List.

“We knew he was having a pretty good year with Toronto, but we haven't -- I only saw videos of him at that point,” Martinez said. “By having conversations with him, I asked him how much has he pitched in the 9th inning and without hesitation he says, ‘Hey, if you need me in the 7th, 8th, 9th, I'll be ready to go.’ And he's been that guy. Whenever he's called upon, he's ready to go and he's a guy that throws strikes, attacks the strike zone, and he's been very good for us.”

With Doolittle throwing just 15 pitches to get four outs Friday, both arms should be available for Game 2. The duo has accrued a 1.08 ERA across 8.1 innings so far in the postseason, combining for three saves, a hold and a win. Given that Doolittle is a lefty and Hudson throws from the right side, Martinez will have the flexibility to pick his matchups in the later innings.

Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina are all right-handed hitters who bat third through fifth in the Cardinals’ lineup, so Hudson appears likely to be Martinez’s choice to face them if they come up in a tight situation late in games.

“Today we get Huddie back. I haven't talked to Doo yet, but I'm assuming, I think he only threw like 18 pitches yesterday, four outs, which was huge too,” Martinez said. “So I'm assuming he's going to be good to go, especially with the day off tomorrow. But bullpen's fresh and ready to go.”

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

    Quick Links

    How to try out to be a Washington Nationals' Racing President

    How to try out to be a Washington Nationals' Racing President

    Ever wanted to run for president? Well, now's your chance.

    Or at least to compete to be a Racing one at Nats' games.

    The Washington Nationals Entertainment Department is looking for interested candidates to try out to be the next George, Tom, Abe and Teddy.

    Enthusiastic and energetic applicants should be able to run 200-yards in a 50-pound suit, be at least 5'7" and be available for at least 40% of the Nationals home games, according to the team.

    You can apply here, but do so quickly. Applications close Wednesday, Dec. 11!

    For those looking for helpful hints, NBC Sports Washington has some experts on staff.

    MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

    Quick Links

    Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick to one-year deal

    Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick to one-year deal

    Washington pulled in another important piece from the 2019 World Series roster.

    Howie Kendrick and the Nationals agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2021, pending a physical, on Friday morning, NBC Sports Washington confirmed. Kendrick's deal is reportedly worth $6.25 million.

    Bringing Kendrick back retains a leader, elder statesman and quality bat. Kendrick, 36, became one of the key clubhouse voices last season while also delivering a career-best .966 OPS.

    He can platoon at first base with Ryan Zimmerman -- should the Nationals and Zimmerman reach an expected deal -- because of his ability to hit right-handed pitching. Last season, Kendrick's OPS was .930 against right-handed pitching (.758 career), which made him more effective against right-handers than left-handed free-agent options like Eric Thames (.877) and Mitch Moreland (.887). Washington could still pivot to a left-handed platoon compliment if it does not reach a deal with Zimmerman.

    Salaries at first base will represent significant savings for Washington in 2020. Zimmerman and Matt Adams cost around $21 million in base salary last season. If Zimmerman returns to work with Kendrick, his salary should be in a similar range, dropping the team's commitment at the position by roughly $9 million or more. 

    The increasing possibility of the designated hitter coming to the National League in either 2020 or 2021 is also in play here for Kendrick. 

    Kendrick's 2019 season was unlikely and filled with rejuvenation. He started the year arguing he was healed from an Achilles tendon rupture in 2018. Once he joined the team after opening the season on the injured list because of hamstring problems, Kendrick took off. Davey Martinez worked not to overplay Kendrick throughout the season in order to have him for the playoffs.

    There, Kendrick excelled. His 10th-inning grand slam in Game 5 in Los Angeles will long stand as one of the biggest hits in organization history.
    He was named National League Championship Series MVP when Washington swept St. Louis in the next round. His Game 7 homer off the foul pole in Houston was also an enormous moment for the Nationals.

    Now, he's back and helps provide clarity. The Nationals know what their catching combination is, have a good idea of what their first base combination is and are set in the outfield. The two big free-agent questions -- third base and a top-tier starting pitcher -- remain.
     

    MORE NATIONALS NEWS: