Starter vs the Mets Today?:
With Erick Fedde placed on the 10-Day IL with an oblique strain on Sunday, the Nationals, who are dealing with a number of injuries, weren’t sure who would get the nod tonight in their make-up game against the New York Mets in Washington, D.C.
“We’ll get through today, and then after the game, we’ll see how this game goes, and we’ll come up with a plan,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters on Sunday morning.
“We’ll talk about — I’ll talk about all that stuff with [GM Mike Rizzo] probably in a little while here and then after the game.”
The first move the Nationals made was to call up reliever Andres Machado, who came up earlier this month, but didn’t pitch. Machado, 28, has put up a 2.63 ERA, a 2.57 FIP, three walks (1.98 BB/9), and 18 Ks (11.85 K/9) in 10 games and 13 2⁄3 IP at Triple-A Rochester this year.
“He’s got a good live fastball,” Martinez said when asked for a scouting report on the one-time Kansas City Royals’ prospect. “[He] sinks the ball, got a good slider, he’s a two-pitch pitcher, but throws the ball really well. Throws a lot of strikes. I looked at his numbers. He doesn’t walk very many guys, keeps the ball in the ballpark. He’s only given up one home run in like 16 innings of something like that.”
That’s a 0.66 HR/9 for Machado, who also has a 54.1% ground ball percentage so far at AAA in 2021, and an 85.2 LOB%.
“He’s done well down there, so I’m looking forward to seeing him and putting him in the game.”
As for tonight’s starter? It’s not an easy decision, given the options at the moment.
“Our pitching depth also is a little beat up as well,” Martinez acknowledged, “so this is why — and I always say, [Paolo] Espino has been so good, we have Jefry [Rodríguez] who threw the ball fairly well the other day, so we’ll take a look at all our options, but our pitching depth has been a little beat up down in the minor leagues as well.”
Updating reporters after the club’s 5-1 win over the Marlins, Martinez said that it would likely be a bullpen day.
“It’s probably going to be a bullpen day, but we don’t know who is going to start it.”
Speaking of injured pitchers in the minors, Martinez provided a couple updates on some pitchers who are dealing with things that have limited them this season.
Steven Fuentes, 24, was added to the Nationals’ 40-Man roster this past winter, and he got called up back in April though he never pitched in the majors, and he hasn’t thrown a lot in the minors either this season, with just four appearances, three starts, and 7 2⁄3 IP so far in 2021.
“He’s been hurt, so he hasn’t pitched,” Martinez said on Sunday morning, when asked for an update on the right-hander.
“He had forearm tightness, so we shut him down,” the manager explained further, but as of now, Fuentes still isn’t throwing, with his last outing back on May 21st. What’s he up to?
“He’s back in Florida rehabbing,” Martinez said.
And then there’s Seth Romero, the 25-year-old, 2017 1st Round pick, who made his debut in the majors in 2020’s 60-game campaign, but hasn’t pitched at any level thus far in 2021.
What’s Romero doing?
“Nothing,” Martinez told reporters. “He’s building up. He’s actually throwing the ball well.
“But once again, he’s been hurt, so we just got to build him up to get him — he’s only thrown a couple of innings, I think the max he threw was three innings at about 50 pitches, so we just got to build him up.”
Speaking of Building Up [ed. note - “Another smooth transition, bruh.”]
Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen session on Sunday in Miami, as the 32-year-old right-hander, who went to the IL for the second time this season back on June 2nd, works out, and builds toward a return to the rotation.
Before the 2009 No. 1 overall pick threw, Martinez talked to reporters about what the plan is for Strasburg.
“He’s going to throw a 25-pitch bullpen. So, not a heavy bullpen, but he’s going to get back on the mound and throw. I’m really excited about that.”
Strasburg has been building towards this, gradually increasing his workload as he tries to get back out there.
“He’s throwing the ball good,” Martinez said. “He was throwing up to 150 feet, he was letting it go pretty good, so he talked, as we all sit around and talk and see what his next steps are, he felt like his next step would be to throw off the mound, and we sat down and we agreed on that, so we’ll get him on the ground and get him going.”