Bacus, 29, made his major league debut this season for Washington to meandering results. He’s appeared in 11 games for a 7.94 ERA/5.44 FIP across 11 1/3 innings. Bacus started the year out strong with four scoreless appearances, but he’s been called upon a lot this season, and his last couple of appearances went particularly poorly. Still, outside of a couple of blowups, Bacus did a nice job stepping up when he wasn’t necessarily a Plan A option for manager Dave Martinez coming into the season.
Of course, very little has gone as planned for the Nationals this season, and that includes the bullpen. Sean Doolittle – once a stalwart of the Nats’ pen – has seen his struggles from the tail end of 2019 carry over to this season with a 7.11 ERA. Daniel Hudson has continued to pitch fairly well despite a bloated 7.35 ERA, though he, like Bacus, has been overtaxed. He’s also blown three saves in definitive fashion. On the plus side, Tanner Rainey (2.08 ERA, 17 1/3 innings) brought his triple-digit heat to high-leverage innings and established himself as a setup option for the Nats.
Bottom line: Stephen Strasburg being lost for the season and Joe Ross opting out thinned the Nationals’ pitching corps. Struggles in the rotation from Erick Fedde and Anibal Sanchez spilled over into the bullpen and put a lot of innings on the Nats’ bullpen arms.
They’ll get a fresh one now to help out in Bourque. The 27-year-old has been featured at the tail end of Nationals’ top-30 prospect lists. He’s made two appearances so far this season at the tail end of July, providing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, Bourque logged 64 innings across 47 appearances with a 4.22 ERA, 12.1 K/9, and 5.1 BB/9.