Daniel Hudson: The Washington Nationals Secret Weapon
It has been a tale of two seasons for Daniel Hudson. Earlier in the season, Hudson was simply an average arm in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen. Now he is a key piece in the Washington Nationals success in the postseason. His transformation in the few months between makes him one of the most underrated relievers in the game.
Hudson as a Blue Jay
Daniel Hudson started the season in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. Having originally signed with the Los Angeles Angels before the season, his release came less than a week before Opening Day. Hudson played a solid role in Toronto’s bullpen but always was under Ken Giles on the depth chart.
As a Blue Jay, Hudson produced an ERA of 3.00 in 38 innings pitched. This while getting 48 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.272. Assuming that Hudson was to stay at that pace as a member of the Blue Jays; it would still be one of the best seasons of his career. From a 32-year-old pitcher, Hudson provides leadership to the younger members of his pitching staff.
The Trade to the Nationals
On July 31, the Nationals acquired Daniel Hudson hoping that he can bolster their bullpen. Few could have guessed Hudson would be their star reliever in the bullpen. However, since coming to the Nationals Hudson has a 1.44 ERA in 25 innings pitched. Not to mention, Hudson has yet to give up a run in the postseason.
Hudson has become a great piece Dave Martinez can rely on in the later innings. One thing that helps Hudson is a higher use of his fastball. This has lead to Hudson throwing five percent more strikes since going to Washington (which is marginal because he’s a reliever). Other than that, there isn’t much to explain the difference.
The Nationals Bullpen
Heading into the 2019 postseason, one of the biggest concerns facing the Nationals is their bullpen. Other than Hudson only Tanner Rainey has an ERA below four from their bullpen. Hudson was able to win the closer role from Sean Doolittle with ease. Nationals fans have been quite impressed with his performance. Hudson has helped reshape the narrative of the Nationals weak bullpen. As both the Nationals and Hudson seemed as outsiders heading into the season, they seem to make a great pair in the playoffs.
Daniel Hudson is someone worth cheering for this postseason. After always being inconsistent during his career, it appears that Hudson has finally figured things out. Hudson missed the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery which ended his chance at being a starter. After signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017, Hudson played for five different teams, including the Nationals. Now at the age of 32, he has had his best season since 2010. Like the Nationals, Daniel Hudson has overcome adversity and heartbreak in order to play some of the best baseball possible. This makes him the unlikely hero that October baseball craves.
After the Season
Following the 2019 season, Daniel Hudson will be a free agent. Hudson made $1.5 million as a Blue Jays reliever. Since he has proved that he can be an important part to any bullpen and thrive under pressure, it’s possible teams will spend money to acquire him. Especially if he helps lead the Nationals to their first NLCS since 1981. The story of Daniel Hudson has been truly great to see play out this season.