By Bryan Frantz

WASHINGTON — The Nationals bullpen continues to struggle, and with the loss of Joe Ross for the remainder of the season, the need for quality relievers has only grown.

Per a Ken Rosenthal report on Saturday, the Nationals are working to “trying to acquire” two of the Oakland Athletics’ relievers.

Sean Doolittle, a 30-year-old lefty, has pitched primarily as a setup man this season, working the eighth inning in 12 of his 23 appearances for Oakland. For the season, he has a 3.38 ERA, 0.656 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 21.1 innings, and he has saved three of his four attempts.

The only time he ever served as the full-time closer, in 2014, he saved 22 of 26 chances and compiled a 2.73 ERA while making the All-Star Game.

Ryan Madson is a 36-year-old righty who has twice served as a full-time closer, including a season ago for Oakland. He saved 30 of 37 chances last season, and he saved 32 of 34 chances for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011.

The problem, as it has been for months now, is everybody knows the Nationals need bullpen help. This leaves Washington very little leverage, and considering it already dealt a trio of top prospects for Adam Eaton, the farm system is a bit thinner than it was a year ago, when the Nationals traded for Mark Melancon.

Incidents such as Saturday night, when Austin Adams and Trevor Gott combined to give up six hits, two walks and seven runs without recording a single out, only make matters more difficult.

Whatever the Nationals have to give up at the deadline, whether it’s for Doolittle and Madson or somebody else, it’s going to cost them. GM Mike Rizzo is likely going to be forced to further deplete the farm system, which will obviously hurt a few years down the road.

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