By Howard Braman
Nats reliever has a glove story to tell.
At the suggestion of Washington’s director of mental conditioning, Mark Campbell, Doolittle put lavender oil on the leather laces around the webbing of his glove for the 2019 postseason. It helped the lefty relax on the mound after a rocky regular season, much the way the bullpen as a whole morphed from disaster to asset in 2019, a trend of improvement the club figures will continue in 2020.
“I was so nervous during the playoffs. I was just a big ball of stress. Lavender has a lot of calming and soothing to it,” Doolittle told the AP. “When I came set, I could smell it. It worked, man.”
In October, he produced two saves and three holds, a 1.74 ERA and a .167 opponents’ batting average as the Nationals went 8-1 in his appearances along the way to a championship.
“When you’re a reliever and pitching in high-leverage situations in must-win games, and you’re on-call every night for like a month, it starts to take its toll on you. And it’s a challenge to stay even-keeled and to really manage that energy. That’s the hardest part,” Doolittle said. “(Campbell) helped me out a lot. My regular season did not go the way I wanted it to go, but I was very proud of the way I was able to get myself together and be really effective in the playoffs.”