Ah the smell of summer rains, the beautiful sounds sounds of baseball hitters sending dingers out of the park, the annual June/July Stephen Strasburg DL trip. It truly is the season. Anyways , some notes on injuries and what comes next:
Davey Martinez , on Saturday he opted to have Ryan Madson pitch the 7th inning instead of his usual 8th inning haunt. Given that the 7th inning was going to see Buster Posey, and Andrew McCutchen, 2 former MVPs that have absolutely killed us this series, I have to give Davey credit for breaking the mold slightly to have our best option face their best hitters. This isn’t the first time as Madson threw the 7th once in New York but this time felt different given the unwritten prohibition on multi inning Madson appearances since his most recent injury.
Strasburg and Kintzler Hurt
Losing 2 pitchers to tough throwing arm injuries this weekend is tough but not necessarily a season killer.
As noted by Nats Reporter Chelsea Janes, Strasburg has looked off since a start in Arizona may 12 where he loaded up the bases in the first inning in a “looked like crap” kinda way before settling in. He’s done this a couple times, but because he’s a very good pitcher, had been more of a 3.3 ERA type guy instead of a 2.9 one. While losing your Co-ace hurts, the emergence of Juan Soto and return of other impact player hitters should be enough to keep the Nats afloat during while Strasburg recovers.
As far as the injury itself (“Shoulder Inflammation) it’s far from the worst case injury that can happen in that region as any virtually shoulder surgery is a season ender and likely to alter a career for the worse. That said, inflammation is likely to take awhile for him to come back from. As background, in recent seasons shoulder inflammation has sidelined pitchers like Joe Ross ( 2.5 months) Joe Blanton (1 Month), and Koda Glover ( 3 months and counting) for wildly varying amounts of time . In the case of Strasburg I suspect he will wall more in the 2-2.5 month range because his velocity didn’t dip before he went on the DL. This doesn’t mean the inflammation is nothing (his control was bad and his pitches were easily squared) but the longer DL trips from pitchers seem to happen after they’ve been shut down following a velocity drop as losing that speed due to injury usually is a sign of a more advanced condition.
Kinzler seems almost certain to end up on the DL for awhile after exiting with “forearm tightness”. Forearm tightness is one of the dirty words that is used when you’re thinking “tommy john or equivalently nasty elbow injury” but don’t have the ability to confirm it without a trip to the good ole MRI tube. It’s quite possible that Kintzler doesn’t have a torn UCL and the 1 year Tommy John related shut down. I say this because most UCL tears are chronic rather than acute and Kintzler almost certainly had to get an MRI in December as a precondition of his new contract, which would have shown if he had concerning levels of damage to the ligament. Look for Wander Suero to make his way back to the majors sunday and Erick Fedde to come up when Strasburg is due in the rotation on Wednesday. The Nats may also end up calling up Austin Voth or Jeffrey Rodriguez if Jeremy Hellickson isn’t ready to return by the time the fifth starters slot is needed on June 19.
Two weeks ago I wasn’t certain that Miller was going to stick around as he had initially been used as something more of a righty specialist. His performance since getting called up has been nothing short of impressive (and is moving from the “small sample size” argument to “this guy might legit be good now”. While 9 innings isn’t particularly much work, Miller’s velocity has somehow increased from a 90-92 to 93-95 this year and his strikeout numbers are following accordingly. He’s also shown the ability to go multiple innings and back to back days without getting himself in trouble, including 2 deeply needed innings of emergency relief on saturday. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if Miller and Sammy Solis end up splitting setup duties during the likely absence of Brandon Kintzler. Whether Miller has changed his career arc is up for debate as there is a long list of relievers who dominated out of nowhere one year only to collapse shortly thereafter (Brad Boxberger in ‘15, Drew Storen in ‘11).
The Dreaded MRI Tube
At this point in the season I’m starting to think that the nationals probably need to get some kind of frequent customer style discount given the number of players that we know have ended up in an MRI Tube (Which by the way is a wildly unpleasant experience separate from the injury that put you there):
Brandon Kintzler (Sunday)
Nothing special to say here just an observation and perhaps a case for paying to get an MRI tube at the park to save on gas costs of sending player to whatever offsite vendor the team uses.
Seth Romero was the Nats 2017 first round draft pick, a lefty pitcher out of Houston who was considered top 10 talent that fell deep in the draft because of his noted problem of being a goddamn stupid asshole. The asshole part continued to be a problem this year, to the point of him being sent home from spring training for an unspecified violation (reports said it was either a curfew violation or something to do with bringing a girlfriend to the team quarters, both are probably true). Romero recently fulfilled a vaguely defined series of conditions given by the team and was added to the minor league roster. His debut game with Hagerstown showed he hasn’t lost any of the talent as he started and struck out 6 of the 13 batters he faced over 2.2 innings. The low innings total isn’t anything to worry about as he was certainly working on a spring training level pitch count. While Romero probably hasn’t truly changed his ways, if he’s curtailed his (many) bad habits enough to stay on a roster look for him to potentially get a late season reliever call up or be a valuable trade piece as the Nats look to add in July.