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Washington Nationals place Sean Doolittle on 10-Day IL with oblique strain, recall lefty Ben Braymer

Just when Sean Doolittle was starting to look and feel right on the mound, the veteran lefty strained an oblique and landed back on the IL.

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MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez announced this afternoon that the club was placing Sean Doolittle on the 10-Day IL with a right oblique strain and calling up lefty Ben Braymer to take Doolittle’s roster spot.

“We’re waiting to hear from the doctor,” on Doolittle, Martinez said, “but he definitely has a strain of an oblique. He’s going to see a doctor later on this afternoon and we’ll know more by the end of the game.

“It’s a pretty good strain. I”m not going to make any assumptions because I’m not a doctor, but he’s going to miss some time.”

Doolittle was three pitches into his ninth inning appearance in last night’s game when he got a groundout from Nick Markakis and immediately grabbed at his right side, and bent over at the waist.

Doolittle started motioning towards the Nationals’ dugout, calling for trainer Paul Lessard to come out to the mound.

Martinez headed out to the mound as well as soon as they saw Doolittle’s reaction to the pitch.

“I saw him leaning over and I just started running out there,” Martinez said. “When you see somebody injured like that and kind of hunched over, it scares you, you don’t know what the problem is. I honestly first thought it was his knee, but I went out there and he said it was his oblique.”

Doolittle had, of course, missed time last month, between August 10th and 30th after he was placed on the 10-Day Injured List with right knee fatigue.

The Nationals’ 33-year-old left-hander, who is potentially headed for free agency this winter, struggled at the start of the 2020 campaign, giving up seven hits (three home runs) and five runs total over five games and 3 IP before the IL stint, but after tweaking his mechanics over the extended stay at the club’s Alternate Training Site, he returned and made six appearances, and didn’t allow an earned run to score in 4 23 IP before the latest injury.

“I feel like in each of the five outings that I’ve had since coming back from Fredericksburg, that each one has been an improvement,” Doolittle said earlier this week.

His sixth outing, depending on the severity of the issue, could end up being his last of this odd 60-game campaign.

“I’m concerned,” his manager said last night. “That’s a tough one for any athlete. So he’s going to get evaluated, I’m going to go see him now. Hopefully it’s not too bad.”

Martinez added today that he felt awful for how things have worked out.

“I talked to him last night before he left, sat up last night thinking about him for about a few hours,” Martinez shared.

“He was coming back. He was doing well. We went through a lot this year with him knowing that he wanted to help us win and he wanted to get back to his form and we felt like he was there. So, this just — this just stinks for him and for us. I just hope he recovers, gets better, and continues to do what he does, because he’s going to be the pitcher that he was before, I know that. He’s worked so hard to get back there. Like I said, for me it’s part of this crazy year, it really is. Cause here’s a guy that takes unbelievable care of himself.

“Anybody stretches more than him or works out more than him, I can’t see it.

“He’s definitely one of those guys who puts the time and effort in to make sure that he’s ready every day.”

This afternoon, the Nationals placed Doolittle on the IL for the second time this season.

Braymer, 26, made his MLB debut last month, giving up a run in 1 13 innings of work in Boston. He was the only left-hander available on the 40-Man roster at this point.

“We called up Braymer,” Martinez announced. “There’s a left-handed pitcher. Right now I view him as just being a long relief kind of guy, but can also use him in spurts to get lefties out. We’ll see what happens. But for me, I like [Wander] Suero against left-handed hitters. [Will] Harris with his cutter against a left-handed hitter. So these other guys are going to have step up a little bit here and fill the void.”