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Dodgers: Sean Doolittle is Bullpen Help the Team Must Acquire

The veteran lefty would help solve the bullpen problem.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 24: Sean Doolittle #63 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning at Nationals Park on May 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The Dodgers bullpen and the Washington Nationals have something in common, they’re both having bad seasons. Because of that, they can help each other with a trade of left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Nationals are currently sitting in fourth place in the NL East with a 24-32 record. Unless they turn their season around soon, they will likely be sellers by the July 31 trade deadline.

The Dodgers bullpen has the 10th worst ERA in baseball at 4.81 and they’re 15th in WAR (0.7). It has been the only weak spot on arguably the best team in baseball. If they want to make a deep run in October, they’re going to need to fix it.

They will need to add at least two good relievers, and maybe three. One of them should be a left-hander since Scott Alexander and Caleb Ferguson have struggled, Julio Urias is facing a potential suspension, and Tony Cingrani can’t get healthy.

Why Doolittle?

Over the past few seasons, Doolittle has been one of the best relievers in the game. He holds a career 2.87 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 30.7% strikeout percentage, 5.0% walk percentage, and 10.8 WAR in 351 innings. Just last year he had a 1.60 ERA, 1.89 FIP, 36.8% strikeout percentage in 45 innings.

Although he hasn’t been great this season (3.52 ERA, 3.44 FIP, and a 27.5% strikeout percentage), Doolittle has the talent to turn it around at any moment and could fill their need for a shutdown left-hander out of the bullpen.

His batted ball profile shows he hasn’t been as dominant as last year, but he’s still been very effective. His struggles could be directly tied to the Nationals struggles as Doolittle is in the 76th percentile of strikeout percentage and the 70th percentile of hard-hit percentage.

According to Statcast’s expected stats, he should be limiting opponents to a .242 batting average, .329 slugging percentage, and .299 wOBA. Compared to his actual numbers of a .269 average against, .419 slugging, and .321 wOBA, Doolittle should expect to see better results.

Pairing Doolittle with Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez would give the Dodgers a strong back end of the bullpen.

The Cost for Doolittle

The cost to acquire Doolittle won’t be low, but it also isn’t going to cost their top prospects. He is making $6 million this season with a $6.5 million team option or a $500k buyout for the 2020 season.

The Dodgers could consider trading Ross Stripling for him as Stripling doesn’t have a real role on the team and the Dodgers have a few players who could step into the rotation if needed. It could entice the Nationals as they currently have Anibal Sanchez and Erick Fedde at the back of their rotation.

A more likely deal might be something with multiple players such as Dennis Santana, Edwin Rios, Jeter Downs, Connor Wong, Yadier Alvarez, or Omar Estevez.

The Nationals need an infusion of younger and better talent into their organization and the Dodgers need another strong bullpen arm. Doolittle should be at the top of their wish list as he could be the lockdown left-hander they have been missing for the past few seasons.

Written by Blake Williams

I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Los Angeles Pierce College and now I'm working towards my Bachelor's at Cal State University, Northridge. I'm currently the managing editor for the Roundup News and a writer for Dodgers Nation. Around the age of 12, I fell in love with baseball and in high school, I realized my best path to working in baseball was as a writer, so that's the path I followed. I also like to bring an analytics viewpoint to my work and I'm always willing to help someone understand them since so many people have done the same for me. Thanks for reading!

14 Comments

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  1. I’m fearing the Nationals will ask/insist from the cost-effective group of minor leaguers, Santana, Downs, et. al. Dodger brass hold on to these prospects like its the last items on Earth, lol.

  2. We all know they’ll ask for atleast 2X more than what they’d ask another team. This is why Friedman always has to go dumpster diving because teams ask for unfair packages from us. The most recent example was this offseason with the Marlins not only asking for Bellinger but also half the farm, what they ended up accepting from the Phillies was laughable compared to what the Dodgers would’ve given them had they been reasonable with us. Teams would rather get far less from someone else then get a fair package from the Dodgers

    • If this is and baseball had a living breathing commissioner than the team’s conducting unfair trading practices should be banned from being able to do trades of any kind for two years they are just lucky that I am not the commissioner because I would punish such unprofessional conduct Dodgers front office should take note of any team that asks them for unreasonable trades and refuse to do business with them The Dodgers should have never given the hate filled Marlins Mike Piazza or Dee Gordon in the past wow you blew my mind NODH WHAT an insightful comment I just hope and pray that teams are more professional and mature enough not to be so petty with another team because they are jealous JUST WOW UNBELIEVABLE THAT ANY TEAM IN SPORTS WOULD BE THAT WAY Dodgers are first class club because they have traded away a lot of talented players to other teams when the Dodgers were rebuilding just no room for selfish petty behavior like this in sports

    • So funny but true Danny but don’t forget another do nothing guy in our wonderful lazy GM Andrew Friedman if I was him I would forfeit my salary to Charity but he is so darn lazy the Dodgers have so many needs like power hitting catcher a TRUE LEAD OFF HITTER AND A LIGHTS OUT Dominate Setup guy who can also Close if Kenley Jansen

  3. This makes no sense. The Dodgers bullpen is full of tons of good young talents that are struggling. Why would they trade for another? Kimbrel is the answer theynseek.

  4. Would take it a step further. Matt Scherzer and Sean Doolittle and offer AJ Pollock, Kenta Maeda, Dennis Santana, Edwin Rios, Yimi Garcia and try to see if they bite with Joe Kelly. Because of the contract Scherzer has.
    And my second Trade with be with the Tigers for Shane Greene R for Yadier Alvarez, Omar Estevez and Connor Wong. Comments ???

  5. I like it but aren’t we right up against the salary tax threshold? If so and we’re going over then I say go for broke and let’s go sign Kimbrel and move Jansen to setup role and don’t let bruised egos get in the way.

    Since your bio says you want to be a baseball writer, I’ll give you one piece of constructive criticism. The headline reads that Doolittle is the reliever that we Must sign. But you conclude with ‘Doolittle should be at the top of their wish list as he could…’ So it is a lot of hyperbole to start with Must and end with Could and Should.

    Good luck with your future career, hope you make it and find happiness.

  6. The Dodgers are up against the salary threshold so the longer they wait the less salary they owe and possibly stay safe. They also might have to get rid of some salary to do that. But you can bet they are already talking to other tesms and making their plans for a July 31 deal.
    Re Kimbrel, watch for him to be signed on Tuesday. Whoever he has made a deal with is just waiting so they don’t lose a draft pick. But the agreement is no doubt already been made.

  7. You have to pay attention to what teams have and do not have……..the Nationals are right hand pitching heavy…………..they are not going to trade you a left handed pitcher………..they are having BIG time bullpen problems blowing leads………..they are not going to trade one of the best relief pitchers they have when that is their biggest weakness………Washington is only nine back……..they probably are not in a sell mode quite yet. And then there is the Dodger perspective…..the fact that Dolittle sports a 3.50 run ERA, which isn’t any better than the guys we have. This is just a bad idea………the Dodgers should try to create a trade with one of the out contention teams (someone 13-15 back with sinking hopes). Try to get them to give up a number one or number two starter. Acquire “that guy” and stick him in our bullpen. JMO.

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