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Report: Nationals trying to acquire Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle

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The Nationals have a mighty need for relievers, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that they’re trying to acquire at least two from the Athletics. According to Rosenthal, the Nationals are pushing to trade for both right-hander Ryan Madson and left-hander Sean Doolittle, though he notes that the club will continue to keep an eye out for other talent if a deal can’t be struck.

Madson, 36, stands to receive $7.5 million in 2017 and another $7.5 million in 2018. He’s been lights-out for the Athletics this season, delivering a career-best 2.11 ERA, 1.4 BB/9 and second-best 8.6 SO/9 through 38 1/3 innings.

Doolittle, meanwhile, is due the rest of his $2.6 million salary in 2017 and another $4.35 million in 2018. He has two club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, at $6 million and $6.5 million, respectively. The 30-year-old lefty reliever has struggled to stay healthy during his 2017 campaign after succumbing to a shoulder strain and missing several weeks on the disabled list. When healthy, he paired a 3.38 ERA with an unbelievable 0.8 BB/9 and 13.1 SO/9 over 21 1/3 innings in the first half of the season.

Both relievers would represent a significant upgrade for the Nationals, whose relief corps ranks dead last among major league bullpens thanks to a flurry of untimely injuries. Rosenthal adds that it’s still unclear what kind of return they’re prepared to offer the Athletics, but it seems reasonable to assume that they’ll be willing to part with several prospects in order to bolster their pitching staff, especially if they’re serious about making a run at the championship title later this year.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.