September 7, 2018 / 11:40 PM / 16 days ago

Nationals may find relief as closer Doolittle returns

The Washington Nationals have their saving grace back. Left-handed closer Sean Doolittle was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list on Friday.

Jun 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sean Doolittle (62) delivers a pitch during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images

Doolittle, one of the most effective relievers in the major leagues with a 1.45 ERA and 22 saves before he went on the DL on July 10 with a strained toe on his left foot, hasn’t pitched in a game since July 6. His injury was a stress reaction of the second left metatarsal.

“If you had told me when I came out of that game that night that I was going to have to wait two months to get to do that again, I would’ve said you were crazy,” Doolittle said on Friday. “But it’s one of the things the DL does. It gives you some perspective. It humbles you a little bit. It reminds you how lucky we are to play this game, and to get a chance to put this uniform on and go back out on the field. I’m really excited to be back with the guys.”

With 49 strikeouts and only three walks in 37 1/3 innings prior to the injury, Doolittle earned his second All-Star spot this season but didn’t play in the game. The Nationals, who are in third place in the National League East and trail the front-running Atlanta Braves by 8 1/2 games, need some relief for a bullpen that has the fourth-highest ERA (4.72) in the NL.

The Nationals are on a three-game losing streak after dropping the opener of a four-game series to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. The Nationals weren’t too effective with replacement closers Kelvin Herrera (season-ending Lisfranc injury Aug. 26) and Ryan Madson, who compiled a 5.28 ERA in 44 1/3 innings before being shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 31.

—Field Level Media

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