Can the Oakland Athletics bullpen save the Washington Nationals season?

A's trade Doolittle in 5-player deal with Nationals

As impressive as the Washington Nationals have been in compiling the second-best record in the National League (54-36 going into Sunday's play, resulting in a 9.5 first-place lead in the NL East), their shoddy bullpen looked to be a significant obstacle in the postseason. The righty has fanned 39 batters in 39.1 innings while earning one save and 14 holds. Washington relievers are last in baseball in strikeouts with 229 in 251.1 innings. Their bullpen was awful up to this point (-0.9 combined fWAR) and while they have the best offense in baseball, there is no way they would make it through a postseason with what they had in the bullpen. Though he notched three saves in his first four appearances of the season, the right-hander also allowed three runs and five hits in 3.1 innings.

The 30-year-old Doolittle, who had suffered injuries since his 2014 All-Star Game appearance, has regained his upper 90's fastball and dominance. He underwent shoulder surgery the following season, but has been a reliable reliever for Oakland during the past two seasons. This appears more appropriate for the 36-year-old who now owns a 2.06 ERA through almost 40 innings.

From a depth perspective, Madson and Doolittle will bring manager Dusty Baker flexibility in the later innings. In 23 games with the A's, the 30-year old southpaw checked in with a 0.65 WHIP, and averaged more than 13 whiffs per nine innings.

Resurrecting his career with the Kansas City Royals two years ago, he was part of their incredible championship bullpen. Unfortunately, while both have closer experience, neither profile as a playoff tested closer type. Doolittle's health history isn't as predictable.

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Treinen started the season as the Nats closer but fell out of favor quickly. Left-handed batters are 0-for-23 with 12 strikeouts and no walks against him.

Regardless of their age, both Doolittle and Madson join the Nationals after putting together phenomenal seasons for the Athletics while maintaining mid-90s velocity. Doolittle is owed the rest of his $2.6 million this year, $4.35 next season with a $6 million club option for 2019 and a $6.5 club option for 2020.

The Nationals gave up one of their most talented relievers, Blake Treinen, in the deal.

To the surprise of many, Madson is the better pitcher this year.

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