Before the series finale in Milwaukee on Sunday, the Washington Nationals announced a few moves to bring back some bullpen arms. Austin Voth was returned from a rehab assignment and reinstated from the Injured List, as was reliever Kyle McGowin. In order to make room, a decision was made to designate veteran reliever Javy Guerra for assignment, while the Nats sent outfielder Andrew Stevenson to Triple-A Rochester.
Guerra, 35, and a member of the 2019 championship club, went 0–1 with a 16.50 ERA in six relief appearances for the Nationals, after the 11-year veteran was called up from Triple-A to help the bullpen following the club’s fire sale at the trade deadline.
On Saturday afternoon, in Milwaukee, Guerra struggled in his first appearance in a week, giving up two hits, one a grand slam, and five runs, four earned, in just a 1⁄3 of an inning, hitting two batters as well in a rough 21-pitch outing.
Manager Davey Martinez said on Saturday night that he was surprised to see Guerra have a bad outing like that.
“I was very surprised,” Martinez told reporters. “He usually pounds the strike zone, he gets ahead of hitters, but uncharacteristic today, he hit a couple guys, and got 3-2 on a really good hitter in [Christian] Yelich and had to — forced to throw a strike with the bases loaded, and Yelich didn’t miss that pitch.
“He threw it pretty much right down the middle, maybe a little in, and [Yelich] crushed it.”
“I mean, honestly, it’s just unexplainable, inexcusable, ultimately,” Guerra said in his own post game Zoom call on Saturday night. “I’ve got to be better than that.”
The veteran reliever, who’s been something of a role model for the younger arms in the ‘pen at this point, talked about how he’d respond to such an outing in a professional manner and provide an example for how you deal with that sort of thing.
“Yeah, I love our guys,” Guerra said. “I think that’s the best part about this whole thing is you’re seeing guys develop and come up and do their thing, and I love watching them, but I still got to contribute, so the biggest thing is be a pro, go out there, get outs, and whatever happens after that is beyond our control, so just show them that it’s part of the business, you got to get outs.”
His inability to do so in this latest run ultimately led to the Nationals making a hard choice with a player who was well-liked in the clubhouse.
“Very tough, talked to him for a bit,” Martinez said on Sunday morning. “He’s — he’s got some decisions to make, obviously, but we’re going to miss him. Like I said, I build these relationships with these guys, and he’s one of the guys where he’s a veteran guy, not only on the field but he does a lot in the clubhouse as well. It was tough, but we had to make a move to get Austin back here, and [Guerra] understood, but it’s always tough losing a guy like Javy.”
There is, of course, the possibility that Guerra ends up returning to the organization, but it will be a decision he has to make in the coming days, though Martinez said he would love for the reliever return to the fold.
“Absolutely. There’s no question. And like I said, I told him, ‘I know you’ve got a decision to make, but I’d love to have you back,’ and he knows that, he understands that.
“But like I said, he’s going to be spend the next three days, four days, or whatever, and talk to his family and then make a decision.”
And the Nationals’ decision to bring Voth and McGowin back up?
“As you can see,” Martinez said, after all the pitchers he sent out on Sunday struggled, with a combined 11 walks from his staff.
“We need some pitching, and we need some bullpen help. I don’t want to keep beating the same guys up. So we needed an extra arm, so we made a decision on bringing McGowin and Austin up, to give us another arm in the bullpen and then we’ll see how it goes.”