The 2015 season for the Washington Nationals was largely a disaster. Pundits had projected the club to finish in the realm of 100 wins; the Nats struggled to a mere 83 wins. Granted, when 83 wins are the floor, when playing .500 ball constitutes a disaster, something in general is right with the franchise – but for a team that clearly had World Series-or-bust caliber hopes, to finish playing roughly .500 ball was severely disappointing.
Where and what went wrong? To paraphrase General Manager Mike Rizzo, everything, everywhere, early and often.
Some of the most high-profile implosions, however, occurred in the bullpen, and trying to fix that area will be one of the highest priorities for Rizzo this winter.
The Nationals are hardly alone in being dissatisfied with their bullpen; their NL East rival Mets are also desperately in need of reinforcements for their relief corps. But what can Rizzo, or any general manager, really do?
The microcosm of the Nationals may help us to understand how and why bullpens go wrong and what avenues are actually available to address the matter.