Davey Martinez has been talking up Seth Romero recently, so the Washington Nationals’ announcement this afternoon that they selected the left-hander’s contract and placed their one-time closer Sean Doolittle on the 10-Day Injured List (retroactive to August. 11) with right knee fatigue, didn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Doolittle has struggled to get right early this season, and has been hard at work behind the scenes, but with an injury to Sam Freeman last night, and the decision to place the lefty on the 10-Day IL this morning with a left flexor mass strain, the Nationals needed another left-hander in the bullpen, and they opted for Romero, who was included on the Taxi Squad that is traveling with the team on the road trip to New York and Baltimore.
“I wanted to put eyes on him and get him up here,” Martinez said earlier this week, “... but if somebody goes down, he’s another guy who we feel like can help us in the bullpen or even spot start.”
“He’s been throwing the ball well in our camp,” Martinez added. “So, we want to see what he does.”
Romero, 24, and a 2017 1st Round pick who had behavioral issues in college and early in his time with the Nationals’ organization, underwent Tommy John surgery in August of 2018, so the club is going to handle him carefully, but he’s getting an opportunity.
“We know he had Tommy John surgery, so we’re trying to build up his innings, but yet, here’s a kid that’s been throwing strikes that has three really good pitches. He looks fearless. Every time I see him, he’s very calm on the mound, so we’ll see how this all plays out, but I like him. I think if he continues to progress the way he is, he’s going to be a big part of our future. And it could be soon.”
“Right now we looked at him as a guy that could possibly come up here and if somebody went down or somebody got sick, that could step in and one, throw strikes, and two, get big league hitters out.”
“We feel like he’s got the stuff to get big league hitters out. So that’s why he’s here.”
Romero’s name came up again after Wednesday night’s game, after Freeman suffered the injury.
Martinez was asked afterwards where he’d turn if he needed a lefty out of the pen since Doolittle was still working to get back to being the pitcher he’s been in recent seasons.
“Obviously we’ve got to keep getting Doolittle right and then we’ll see what happens,” the Nats’ skipper said.
“I like the way Seth has been throwing the baseball, he threw the other day and he threw really well.
“Maybe he does get an opportunity, but that’s something that I’m going to sit with [GM] Mike Rizzo about, and see what we come up with.”
Apparently this afternoon, they decided that Doolittle needs to rest up and keep working on his mechanics, while Romero, who hasn’t pitched above Low-A in his two active seasons will get a shot with the big league club.