Asked after Thursday’s win over the Arizona Diamondbacks for an update on the status of closer Shawn Kelley, Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters he did note have any information on the 33-year-old right-hander, who hadn’t pitched since a relief appearance on April 29th. Would he be available in Philadelphia for the start of a three-game set with the Phillies?
“I don’t yet about Philly, so he’s still sick,” Baker said, noting that there was a lot of that going around, and it’s been bad.
“When that gets on you, it seems like it doesn’t let you go very quickly.”
Apparently, in addition to the sickness, Kelley has a lower back issue, because the Nats announced this afternoon that the reliever was being placed on the 10-Day DL with a lower back strain, retroactive to May 2nd.
The Nationals recalled left-handed reliever Matt Grace to take Kelley’s place in the pen until he’s able to return to action.
In 11 relief appearances this season, in the second year of the 3-year/$15M deal he signed with the Nats before the 2016 season, Kelley is (2-0) with three saves, a 5.40 ERA, 7.84 FIP, three walks (2.70 BB/9) and 13 Ks (11.70 K/9) in 10 IP.
With Kelley and Koda Glover (10-Day DL hip impingement) unavailable, Baker turned to relievers Matt Albers and Enny Romero in the ninth inning of Thursday’s win over the D-Backs.
He was asked afterwards if his faith in Romero (who hit triple digits routinely while earning the save) had grown early this season.
“Yeah, cause he’s throwing strikes too,” Baker said.
“He’s getting more comfortable himself out there. He’s throwing the ball excellent and his confidence is growing daily.”
Will the Nationals’ skipper turn to Romero again if there’s a save situation tonight in the series opener in Citizens Bank Park?