Sean Doolittle
Sean Doolittle
32-Year-Old PitcherRP
Washington Nationals
2019 Fantasy Outlook
The Nationals picked up Doolittle's bargain $6 million club option in October. While he added another chapter to his extensive injury history with a foot injury that sidelined him for two months, Doolittle performed well when on the field, going 25-for-26 in save chances. He earned another All-Star berth and settled the team's nerves with a 2.35 ERA in September following his activation from the disabled list. The 32-year-old hasn't walked more than 1.9 batters per nine in a season since 2015, has struck out fewer than 9.9 per nine once and over the past three years, owns a 15.9% swinging-strike rate and a 70.3% first-strike rate which ranks third among all relievers. As long as the draft-day cost comes with some missed time baked in, this should be worthwhile investment as these skills are close to elite and nobody in the Washington bullpen represents a major threat to his role (not even Trevor Rosenthal). Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a five-year deal with the Athletics in April of 2014 that includes two option years through 2020.
Records rocky save
PWashington Nationals
April 18, 2019
Doolittle allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out two across one inning to earn the save Thursday against the Giants.
Doolittle was called upon to close out a three-run lead for the Nationals but experienced some trouble doing so. He allowed three hits -- all of which were singles -- but managed to strike out Brandon Crawford to end the game with the tying run on first base. Given that Thursday's run was the first Doolittle has allowed in 9.2 innings of work, he should remain locked into the closer role for the Nationals.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .116 97 39 8 10 1 1 0
Since 2017vs Right .189 305 94 11 55 8 0 8
2019vs Left .200 17 5 1 3 0 1 0
2019vs Right .304 25 6 2 7 1 0 0
2018vs Left .033 35 20 4 1 0 0 0
2018vs Right .160 128 40 2 20 3 0 3
2017vs Left .146 45 14 3 6 1 0 0
2017vs Right .196 152 48 7 28 4 0 5
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
ERA on Road
ERA on Road
ERA on Road
ERA on Road
Since 2017Home 2.90 0.93 59.0 6 3 22 11.7 1.2 0.9
Since 2017Away 1.15 0.62 47.0 2 0 29 10.7 2.1 0.4
2019Home 1.42 1.74 6.1 2 0 2 9.9 2.8 0.0
2019Away 0.00 0.60 3.1 1 0 0 10.8 2.7 0.0
2018Home 1.73 0.58 26.0 3 3 9 12.1 0.7 0.7
2018Away 1.42 0.63 19.0 0 0 16 11.8 1.9 0.5
2017Home 4.39 1.09 26.2 1 0 11 11.8 1.4 1.4
2017Away 1.09 0.61 24.2 1 0 13 9.9 2.2 0.4
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Stat Review
How does Sean Doolittle compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
93.2 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Doolittle logged his highest innings count since 2014, despite a shoulder strain in the first half that put him on the disabled list for a five-week stretch in the first half. Fortunately, there was no structural damage in his arm, and he held up once he was activated, showing the top-end skills necessary to be a very effective late-inning reliever again. The Nats acquired him along with Ryan Madson at the non-waiver trade deadline in July, and Doolittle went on to finish 21-for-22 in save opportunities while helping to fortify a major weakness on the roster. Doolittle operates with three pitches, but he leans very heavily on his fastball, which typically sits between 94-96 mph and is often located effectively around the top of the strike zone where hitters simply can't catch up to it. Look for him to open 2018 as the preferred ninth-inning option in Washington, where he could prove to be a steady mid-tier closer again.
More shoulder issues limited Doolittle's season -- sound familiar? He hasn't topped 40 innings in the last two years, and his rust probably contributed to him allowing a career-worst 1.38 home runs per nine innings. Of course, Doolittle showed a lot of positives. Doolittle continued whiffing batters to boost his career K/9 to 10.4, and his walk rate finished at 2.1 or lower for the fourth time in five years. He's had at least one save in every season, which makes him one of the better speculative relievers after all closers are off the board. The situation is no different this year with the A's, who has Ryan Madson and an erratic cast of characters behind him, none of whom would stand in the way of a healthy Doolittle. He owns the best skills in this bullpen, and if Doolittle stays healthy, he could match or top the 22 saves he collected in 2014.
After an All-Star season in 2014 that saw Doolittle claim the A's closer job while amassing 22 saves to go along with a 12.8 K/9, an offseason shoulder injury cost Doolittle nearly all of the 2015 season. Doolittle had a slight tear in the rotator cuff of his left shoulder and was able to return in May, but it was for only one appearance (where he was topping out at 89 mph) and he returned to the DL until late August. He had a 3.95 ERA in his 13.2 innings and managed to strike out more than a batter per inning, but he never looked like quite the same pitcher and his average fastball velocity dropped from 94.0 mph in 2015 to 92.4 in 2015. His swinging-strike rate fell to a career-low 9.8%, but it was in a short number of innings and the A's were just hoping he was able to get on the mound and show some health in that stretch. If healthy at the outset of spring training, Doolittle should resume his role as the A's closer.
After Jim Johnson imploded in the closer role, Doolittle finally took the reins and was exceptional, racking up 22 saves even though he didn't get the job until mid-May. He also lost time to a DL stint, missing three weeks late in the season. Once he was the closer, aside from a hiccup in late June where he had back-to-back blown saves, he had only one blown save. The most amazing aspect of Doolittle's season has to be the ridiculous 89:9 K:BB ratio he finished the season with. He will miss the start of the year with a slight rotator cuff tear, opening the door for Tyler Clippard to slot in as the A's closer. However, with a career ERA under 3.00 and career 10.5 K/9 (even higher in 2014 at 12.8 K/9), there little reason why he can't reclaim the job and once again flourish in the ninth-inning role.
Doolittle's impressive transformation from first baseman to reliever continued in 2013 as he managed an ERA approaching 3.00 and a WHIP under 1.00. His strikeout rate dropped from an incredible 11.4 K/9 in 2012 to 7.8 K/9 in 2013, but he also dropped his walk rate and carried a lower H/9 as he learned how to pitch more efficiently in his second season with the A's. Perhaps Doolittle's most impressive stat was that he led the American League in only allowing 6.3 percent of inherited runners to score. The acquisition of Jim Johnson likely prevents Doolittle from getting the first crack at the ninth inning in 2014, but he has a chance to end up saving games for the A's if the team is comfortable removing him from the mix in the seventh and eighth inning. Further, Doolittle has actually been more effective against righties in his first two years, so the A's may decide they are comfortable with him as a closer at some point in the not-so-distant future.
Doolittle was one of the most incredible, yet unsung stories in baseball last year. After operations on both knees and a tendon injury in his right wrist, Doolittle converted from playing first base to become a relief pitcher. After a grand total of 17 appearances across three minor league levels (where he sported a minuscule ERA), Doolittle was called up and ended the season as the lefty reliever that manager Bob Melvin called on late in games. He does not attempt to fool anyone and relies almost solely on the gas (he threw 86.8 percent fastballs in 2012), but still had an exceptional 11.4 K/9. Doolittle figures to be very busy for the A's in the seventh and eighth inning of games, but he will not have much fantasy value in most leagues due to a lack of saves.
Doolittle lived up to his last name again, this year missing the entire season due to wrist injuries after missing the prior two seasons with a knee injury. The A's have given up on him as a hitter, deciding to return him to the mound (he pitched during his college days at Virginia) for one inning in the Arizona Rookie League. They thought enough of him to keep him on the 40-man roster this winter, though there's no telling how his return to the mound will play out.
A knee injury cut short Doolittle's season at Triple-A Sacramento after just 28 games. The A's are trying him in the outfield, likely as a result of Chris Carter's emergence at first base, and while Doolittle hasn't been terrible (.267/.364/.448) he hasn't done a ton to distinguish himself from a typical decent hitting prospect. He doesn't figure to be in the A's plans in 2010, and doesn't project as much more than a reserve player.
More Fantasy News
Earns first save
PWashington Nationals
April 13, 2019
Doolittle allowed one hit and a walk but posted his first save of the year in a 3-2 victory against the Pirates on Saturday.
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Tallies another win
PWashington Nationals
April 9, 2019
Doolittle (3-0) earned the win against the Phillies on Tuesday with 1.2 scoreless innings. He had two strikeouts, one walk and did not allow a hit.
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Grabs second win
PWashington Nationals
April 3, 2019
Doolittle (2-0) did not allow a baserunner during the ninth inning and earned the win against the Phillies on Wednesday. He did not record a strikeout or walk a batter.
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Blows save before earning win
PWashington Nationals
March 31, 2019
Doolittle (1-0) posted a blown save but was given the win Sunday, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out two across 1.2 innings against the Mets.
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Notches save to close spring
PWashington Nationals
March 26, 2019
Doolittle struck out one in a perfect ninth inning to record his first save of the spring in Monday's exhibition game against the Yankees.
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