Doolittle allowed one hit and struck out the side during the ninth in a save against the Phillies on Wednesday. He already has a career high in saves, and he's one away from reaching the 30-save plateau for the first time in his career. However, Doolittle's other numbers aren't up to his normal standards. He is 6-5 with 29 saves, 3.97 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 59 innings this season.
Doolittle pitched a perfect inning in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Phillies in the first game of a doubleheader, retiring all three batters without a strikeout. The southpaw entered the game in the top of the eighth inning with the Nationals up 3-1, and he induced a foulout, a groundout and a flyout in 15 pitches to retire the side. Doolittle has now made seven appearances -- all in non-save situations -- in September, allowing just one run and one hit in six innings. Daniel Hudson has three saves this month, though manager Dave Martinez just said earlier Tuesday that he still views Doolittle as his closer.
Manager Dave Martinez confirmed Tuesday that Doolittle remains his closer, Byron Kerr of MASN Sports reports. Doolittle has no saves in the month of September, while Daniel Hudson has recorded a pair. Doolittle is still working his way back from a knee injury but hasn't been bad over the course of the month, allowing just one run and one hit in five innings while posting a 4:2 K:BB. Martinez did add that he's not afraid to use Doolittle in the eighth inning, however, so there's no guarantee that the next save opportunity will be his.
Doolittle (6-5) took the loss Monday as the Nationals dropped a 4-2 decision to the Cardinals, getting charged with one run after walking one batter and striking out two in two-thirds of an inning. The southpaw entered the game in the top of the seventh inning with the score tied 2-2, and Doolittle's free pass came around to score after his replacement, Hunter Strickland, served up a double to Marcell Ozuna. Doolittle has yet to record a save in September, but neither has any other Nats reliever, so it's not yet clear if he would once again be the preferred option at closer over Daniel Hudson should a save situation arise.
Doolittle (knee) was activated off the 10-day injured list Sunday. Doolittle made one rehab appearance with High-A Potomac on Friday to clear the way for his return to the Nationals. The southpaw has converted 28 of 34 save chances with a 4.33 ERA and 1.40 WHIP this season and should return to the closer's role eventually, but according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports, Doolittle will first be eased back into things in some lower-leverage spots.
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