Potential Twins Bullpen Target: Sean Doolittle, LHP, Nationals
Image courtesy of © Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports*You're going to see a lot of speculation and analysis on potential bullpen additions at the site over the coming weeks. Cody led things off earlier this week with a great overview of 10 potential trade targets. We'll continue to explore the reliever market by running profiles on specific pitchers each day.
Sean Doolittle, LHP, 32-years-old
Washington Nationals (31-36, 4th in NL East)
$6.5MM team option for 2020
2019: 3.58 ERA, 1.337 WHIP, 11.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 in 27.2 IP
2018: 1.60 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 in 45.0 IP
What’s to Like?
Doolittle has been a model of consistency over the entirety of his big-league career. He’s worked as a reliever for eight years and has operated in high leverage or save situations for a vast majority of it. It remains to be seen whether the Nationals sell, but they’re certainly fighting an uphill battle in the NL East right now.
Over the course of his career Doolittle’s 2.88 ERA is paired with a 2.44 FIP. He’s been a double-digit strikeout pitcher on a yearly basis and has displayed a level of command that keeps his walks well into the manageable range.
Washington has really scuffled in 2019, especially considering their expectations, but it wasn’t the fault of Doolittle out of the gate. In his first 18 games Doolittle owned a 0.95 ERA and a 22/5 K/BB. The Nats were 15-3 in games he pitches, and he recorded six saves (against just one blown save.) Another lefty is something Baldelli could certainly use, and a hard thrower would be the ideal variety.
There’s more here than I’d like to see for a target the Twins should have some interest in. The 2.89 FIP is fine, but the 4.48 xFIP is not a great sign. Pair that with velocity that has dropped a full mph on his fastball, and a whiff rate that’s 3% below where he was a season ago.
Doolittle started out the year on a great note as referenced above, but it’s been anything but smooth sledding since. He owns a 9.35 ERA and 1.019 OPS against in his last 8.2 IP. The 13/2 K/BB is still plenty good, but with 15 hits in that span pitches simply aren’t missing bats.
Worth mentioning is that Sean Doolittle removed the toe tap from mechanics after a protest by the Chicago Cubs. That game took place on May 18, and his next outing (May 22nd) saw him surrender four runs on two hits without recording an out against the Mets. He has a 9.45 ERA and 1.039 OPS against since that point. There could be some mechanical tweaks in order to restore him to previous form.
Kirby Yates, RHP, Padres
10 Relievers Minnesota Could Target