While the Los Angeles Dodgers are receiving a ton of attention for acquiring starting pitcher Yu Darvish, the Washington Nationals struck a deal for Brandon Kintzler.
Kintzler gives Washington a dependable arm behind Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. The right hander had a 2.78 ERA and 28 saves with Minnesota this year. This move doesn’t make the Nationals better than the Chicago Cubs or the Dodgers, but it does make them a greater threat to compete for the National League title.
The Nationals rank eighth in pitching and they have a proficient triple threat heading into the playoffs with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez who is arguably having his best season since 2012. The lefty has a 2.66 ERA in 2017.
Scherzer’s 2017 season could possibly be his best season as a major leaguer. The 33-year-old has a 2.23 ERA this season; his lowest ERA in his nine-year career came in 2015 (2.79). Strasburg has a 3.25 ERA so far this season. It’s the lowest his ERA has been in three years.
The Nats are primed to do something memorable in 2017 and Kintzler brings plenty of experience to a bullpen that is full of young arms. Lefties are hitting .197 against Kintzler, and in 45.1 innings he’s surrendered only three homers and 11 walks.
Washington has received help from Matt Albers (1.64 ERA) and Enny Romero (3.66 ERA), but it’ll be interesting to see if they continue to bring in more bullpen hurlers before the August waiver deadline. Joe Blanton, Koda Glover, and Shawn Kelley have ERAs above 5.00. The Nationals’ offense is the best it’s ever been, at least since the Montreal Expos became the Nats.
With the Dodgers full of young players that don’t have much playoff experience and the Cubs having their fair share of struggles on offense, the Nationals might be the team that rises up and surprises the baseball community.
Washington has veterans across its roster, from Bryce Harper to Daniel Murphy, and Scherzer. They have veterans like Matt Wieters, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman who are longing for a championship opportunity. What better way to get closer to the fall classic than by stressing excellence in the bullpen. Kintzler may just be the guy that can send D.C. to the next level and past its playoff shortcomings.