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Sammy Solis odd man out in Washington Nationals’ bullpen, gets optioned to Triple-A...

Sammy Solis was the odd man out, and the only reliever in the bullpen with an option, when the Nats needed to make a move with Jeremy Hellickson returning from the DL to start on Saturday.

Divisional Round - Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs - Game Three Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Sammy Solis talked last week about blowing past his previous season-high for appearances early this time around in part because he was finally healthy, but also because he was asked to while the Washington Nationals sorted out things in their bullpen. At that point, he’d seen action in 37 of 74 games.

“I felt good,” Solis said. “It was a little over-use at a certain point. I remember coming out of the pen and my first pitch of the game, I don’t know when this was, but I was, I want to say 90-91, typically when I feeling good I’m [94-96], so there was a little fatigue there, no pain or anything like that, just fatigue, but that’s baseball, and when you have to pick up the slack with an injury, that’s just what happens. I don’t blame them for that, obviously, that’s just the name of the game right now.”

By the time he was optioned to Triple-A on Saturday afternoon, Solis appeared in 40 of 80 games for the Nationals, posting a 4.50 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 15 walks (4.82 BB/9), 30 Ks (9.64 K/9), and a .216/.328/.382 line against in 28 innings pitched.

Though the Nationals started the season with four lefties in the bullpen, there were injuries, departures, and other circumstances which led to Solis getting the call as often as he did in the first few months.

“I had to pick up the slack,” Solis said, noting that at one point he and closer Sean Doolittle were the only lefties in the bullpen, with Doolittle’s role was clearly defined.

“Having to pick up the, ‘Hey we’re matching up against a lefty.’ ‘We need an inning-plus.’ ‘We need two innings here,” he explained.

“That type of thing. It made it tougher, but at the same time, I’ve done all of those things in the past, so my ability as a reliever is more versatile than just a lefty specialist, so I was open to it, and I was ready for it, and now it actually helps me out because I feel a little better, I built up some arm strength, and we’re just kind of grooving right now.”

Solis had an option remaining, however, and was the only reliever who did, so when there was a roster crunch with Jeremy Hellickson returning from the DL to start on Saturday, the left-hander was the one who went.

“It was very tough,” Davey Martinez said, after he’d delivered the bad news to his reliever.

“I am a big Solis fan. Hopefully he will be back here soon. I want him to get reps against left-handed hitters. We just want him to work on some stuff and get lefties out. There are a lot of other options we have. I know he is going to go down there and work.”

Though everyone knew a move had to be made, the final decision caught Solis by surprise.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Solis said. “Obviously I’ll need some time to cool down. It’s never fun getting sent down, especially when you kind of laid it all on the line up until now. Hopefully I’ll be back sooner rather than later.”