- - Thursday, September 12, 2019

The use of a bullpen takes on added meaning in the playoffs when managers will not hesitate to make a pitching change.

Still needing to make the playoffs, the Nationals still have the worst bullpen ERA in the National League with a 5.77 mark into Thursday’s game in Minnesota against the Twins.

Washington relievers had a 24-30 record and allowed 80 homers in 441 innings — about one long ball every 5.5 innings. Other playoffs contenders in the National League also have bullpen issues.

The New York Mets’ bullpen ERA through Wednesday was 5.12, good for 13th out of 15 teams in the National League. The Philadelphia Phillies were 10th at 4.56 and the Milwaukee Brewers were ninth at 4.53 just one year after having a strong bullpen.

The first-place Atlanta Braves, who begin a series in Washington on Friday, were sixth in the league with a 4.34 bullpen ERA. The St. Louis Cardinals (3.71) were first, the Los Angeles Dodgers (3.94) were third, the Chicago Cubs (4.03) fourth and the Arizona Diamondbacks (4.34) fifth.

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