Coming off Tuesday's 16-inning win in Milwaukee, the Nationals certainly didn't have a quiet morning leading up to this afternoon's series finale at Miller Park.
The Nats needed seven relievers to cover 10 innings in last night's victory, so a move to add an arm to the bullpen was a near-certainty. So Washington called up right-handed pitching prospect Taylor Hill from Triple-A Syracuse and designated reserve infielder Greg Dobbs for assignment.
Manager Matt Williams discussed the decision before today's game.
"We just need length. We've got to have length and Taylor's been pitching really well certainly starting and give us that length that we need because we don't know how long we're going to need the length either," Williams said. "Never want to lose somebody like Dobber, but that's kind of the only option we had. He's a pro. He was a good teammate, professional player, knows how to work, knows how to prepare. Unfortunately, that's the move that we had to make. ...
"Sometimes it's what you've got to do. I'm more concerned about the bullpen. They've been throwing a lot of innings. So we've got to make sure that we can cover them if we can."
Next up, the Nats will likely need to make another roster move with catcher Wilson Ramos in line to return from the disabled list Thursday in Chicago.
Ramos has been out since June 11 with a right hamstring strain. He put himself in position to return tomorrow by catching nine full innings for Single-A Potomac each of the last two days.
"He came out great from yesterday. He caught nine innings no problem. Today's a travel day for him. We'll look to activate him tomorrow, potentially," Williams said.
Outfielder Bryce Harper is also ready for the next step in his rehab program. Harper appeared in each of the last two games for Potomac and is scheduled to join Double-A Harrisburg in Akron on Thursday. He's getting the day off to just work out today, but could be with the Senators for the full four-game series in Akron.
Back to the Nats' current situation, they have a doubleheader looming Saturday against the Cubs.
Williams revealed today that right-hander Blake Treinen will start the second game of the twinbill. The rookie is 0-3 with a 2.08 ERA in eight appearances (four starts) for the Nats this season.
The addition of Hill should help cover the Nats' taxed bullpen for the doubleheader, but the team might need more help by then.
"We get an extra pitcher regardless for the second game of that doubleheader, and that helps. But it's not easy," Williams said. "It's not easy when you get into tough-fought games and extra-inning games and you have to use the bullpen. But it is what it is and we have to play still. So that's why we have to make moves like we made today."
After last night's extended game, Williams said he'd like to stay away from the back-end of the bullpen. He has relievers Craig Stammen, Jerry Blevins and Hill available.
"We don't know how the game's going to go," Williams said. "But hopefully it's a lot of innings by (Stephen Strasburg) and those decisions don't have to be made at the end of the game."
Right fielder Jayson Werth is out of the lineup today, something Williams was hoping to do during the road trip. Second baseman Danny Espinosa and catcher Jose Lobaton are also getting a rest.
Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman are in the lineup, however.
"Jayson's sore, Desi says he feels good, Rochie's OK, Zim doesn't want to come out of the lineup because he said he missed too much time," Williams said. "But over the next couple of days, too, we're going to look long and hard at making sure that we give other guys days. So we'll see. But everybody's good today and we'll see what we can do here."