They won’t, by their mere presence alone, turn the Nationals bullpen from a major problem into a major asset. But the anticipated return this weekend of both Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover from the disabled list certainly won’t hurt the Nats’ attempt to stabilize the shakiest unit on their roster.
The Nationals haven’t made final decisions yet, but both Kelley and Glover are on track to be activated off the disabled list Friday and be available to pitch in their series opener against the Phillies.
“(Glover) might be activated this weekend along with Kelley,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ll see. I don’t think they can be activated until tomorrow at the earliest.”
That’s true of Kelley, who is currently spending his 10th day on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain. Glover actually was eligible to return from his left hip impingement May 6, but was given more time to get himself back into shape and pitch in a rehab game.
Glover made that rehab appearance Wednesday morning - yes, morning - at Double-A Harrisburg, where he tossed a scoreless inning of relief, allowing one hit and striking out one. The right-hander said he threw 19 pitches, using his full repertoire, and emerged feeling strong and ready to rejoin the big league bullpen.
The 10:30 a.m. game in Harrisburg presented some odd challenges for Glover, who drove from Washington on Tuesday night, was up at 7 a.m. Wednesday to get to the ballpark and get his body (and mind) ready to pitch at such an earlier-than-usual hour. He returned to D.C. in the afternoon and was back at Nationals Park to watch his team’s come-from-behind win over the Orioles.
Kelley, meanwhile, threw approximately 20-25 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park, with Trea Turner and Stephen Drew in the batter’s box. The veteran reliever believes that was enough preparation for him to be ready to come back and pitch in Friday night’s game against the Phillies.
Whenever Kelley and Glover return, the Nationals will be able to reconfigure their bullpen in a more preferable manner than the makeshift current arrangement that has not featured a designated closer.
With Kelley and Glover set to retake the top eighth- and ninth-inning spots, Baker will be able to move Matt Albers, Enny Romero and Blake Treinen back into earlier innings. The manager also could choose to move Jacob Turner back into the rotation to serve as No. 5 starter after he has been needed to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen over the last two weeks.