Nationals closer Sean Doolittle underwent an MRI on Saturday that revealed a “stress reaction” in his left foot, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com tweets. There’s no timetable for Doolittle’s return, but he’s expected to miss “weeks, not months,” according to Zuckerman.
Doolittle has already been out since July 7, though the Nationals were surely hoping the left-hander would return after a minimum stay on the 10-day disabled list. Instead, the latest news on Doolittle is yet another negative development for Washington. Expected to contend for a World Series at the beginning of the season, the Nationals have limped to a 48-49 record, placing them 6 1/2 games out in the National League East and six behind a wild-card spot.
Now, considering how poorly their season has gone, it’s unclear just how aggressive the Nationals will be leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. There are plenty of relievers set to change hands in the coming days, and the Nats could perhaps be involved in that market if they choose to buy. Of course, they already made a major addition to their bullpen last month in acquiring Kelvin Herrera from the Royals. Herrera hasn’t been close to as effective in Washington as he was in Kansas City for the season’s first couple months, but as an experienced closer, he’s the logical replacement for Doolittle in D.C.
The 31-year-old Doolittle’s void certainly isn’t an easy one to fill, given that he has posted outstanding results since debuting with the A’s in 2012. Doolittle was better than ever this year before going on the DL, as he logged a 1.45 ERA/1.97 FIP with 11.81 K/9 and .72 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings. He also locked down nearly half of the Nats’ wins, saving 22 of 23 opportunities.