The Nationals exercised Doolittle's $6 million option for 2019, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Doolittle, who missed more than two months with a fractured toe, was one of the best relievers in the majors when healthy in 2018, so this comes as little surprise. The southpaw converted 25 of his 26 save chances while posting a 1.60 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and 60:6 K:BB across 45 innings. He figures to reprise his role as the team's closer in 2019.
Doolittle was removed from Saturday's appearance after 27 pitches, failing to finish the ninth inning of the Nationals' 12-2 victory over the Rockies, but there are no physical concerns with him, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Manager Dave Martinez said he removed Doolittle because he threw too many pitches. It appears it was merely because Doolittle looked fatigued. Janes observed that the pitcher limped off the field and "didn't look like himself." The manager quelled any concerns, though, and because this was his first outing since Sept. 24, the closer might be ready to go Sunday in a season finale that will now feature Erick Fedde -- instead of Max Scherzer -- as Washington's starter.
Doolittle recorded a strikeout in a 1-2-3 inning to earn his 24th save of the season Sunday against the Braves. Doolittle had allowed runs in each of his previous two outings, but he mowed down the side in order while throwing eight of 11 strikes in this one. The veteran hadn't looked quite himself in his first few outings since returning from a long layoff, but he appears to be rounding into form and could provide some fantasy utility down the stretch for those in need of saves.
Doolittle (toe) was activated from the 10-day disabled list Friday, Jamal Collier of MLB.com reports. Doolittle will wind up having missed two months after fracturing a toe in early July. He should soon retake his closer role, though given the length of his absence and his lack of a rehab assignment, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him work at least one lower-leverage inning to get back up to speed.
Manager Dave Martinez said Doolittle (toe) played catch Thursday and could return from the 10-day DL at some point this weekend, Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports reports. Doolittle felt just fine after tossing a simulated game Wednesday, as demonstrated by his workout prior to Washington's contest Thursday. Martinez added that more should be known regarding Doolittle's status after he finishes up playing catch Thursday, though he failed to comment as to whether the left-hander would have any additional hurdles to clear before coming off the shelf.