With a 4-1 lead over the Chicago Cubs heading into the ninth inning of last night's game, Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker sent Shawn Kelley back out to the mound after the right-handed reliever finished off the top of the eighth.
Baker was asked about the decision after the Nationals' win, when a reporter wondered why Nationals' closer Jonathan Papelbon was not used and not even in the bullpen late in the game.
"We really don't know yet," Baker said. "Pap was feeling pretty sore. He was ailing. And so we really didn't have Pap tonight. So, we'll make a further evaluation tomorrow."
Asked if the soreness was in Papelbon's arm, Baker said, "No. It's not in his arm, he's just sore."
Upon further evaluation, the Nationals have apparently discovered that the 35-year-old right-hander has a right intercostal strain.
Washington placed Papelbon on the 15-Day DL this afternoon, retroactive to June 13th (Monday):
The #Nats have reinstated RHP Matt Belisle and placed RHP Jonathan Papelbon on the 15-day DL (retro 6/13) with a right intercostal strain.— #VoteNats (@Nationals) June 14, 2016
On the year, Papelbon, who was acquired in a deadline deal with the Philadelphia Phillies last July, has put up a 3.28 ERA, a 3.60 FIP, eight walks (2.92 BB/9) and 19 Ks (6.93 K/9) in 24 ⅔ IP, but he's struggled to generate swings and misses, with a 9.5 SwStr% on the year, down from 12.4 last season and 13.1% in his career and he's been getting hit pretty hard.
Opposing hitters also have a .321 AVG against his slider, up from a .196 AVG on his career, and a .280 AVG against his fastball, up from .214. Were his struggles tied to an injury issue? Is the injury a new thing?
Reporters will surely ask Dusty Baker when he meets with reporters this afternoon. More info when it's available.
As noted in the Tweet above, the Nationals reinstated right-handed pitcher Matt Belisle from the 15-Day DL to take Papelbon's spot on the roster and in the bullpen.