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Nationals add relief to worst major-league bullpen

© GETTY/AFP/File | Southpaw Sean Doolittle, pictured in April 2017, and teammate Ryan Madson have joined the Washington Nationals as relief pitchers

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

Nagged by the worst relief pitching in Major League Baseball, the Washington Nationals added help Sunday by obtaining right-hander Ryan Madson and left-hander Sean Doolittle from the Oakland Athletics.

The Nationals, 54-36 and leading the National League East division by 9 1/2 games, sent Oakland right-handed pitcher Blake Treinen and two developmental-level players, left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo and third baseman Sheldon Neuse.

Washington's bullpen of relief pitchers has a 5.34 earned-run average, ranked last in the major leagues.

Madson, 36, has allowed just one earned run in 14 innings with 12 strikeouts over his past 13 appearances. He did not walk a batter during this stretch and no base runner he inherited crossed the plate.

Doolittle, 30, has not allowed a hit to a left-handed batter in 23 appearances this season, southpaws going 0-for-23 with 12 strikeouts and no walks.

Madson had 30 saves in 2016 while Doolittle has 36 saves during his six major league seasons, 22 of them in 2014 when he was an American League All-Star.

Treinen, 29, was 8-11 with a 3.39 ERA in 185 games over the past four seasons and ranks second this season in the major leagues at inducing double-play ground balls.

The Nationals might not be done dealing for pitchers with the trade deadline two weeks away. Right-handed starter Joe Ross will undergo season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery on Wednesday.

© 2017 AFP