A busy week of transactions continued this morning when the Nationals tweaked their roster for their doubleheader against the Rockies by officially promoting top pitching prospect Erick Fedde, releasing veteran outfielder Chris Heisey and making a necessary procedural move involving catcher Pedro Severino.
Fedde’s contract was purchased from Triple-A Syracuse, allowing the 24-year-old right-hander to start today’s opener and make his major league debut. Because Fedde wasn’t already on their 40-man roster, the Nationals needed to clear a spot, and they did so by releasing Heisey.
Heisey had been placed on the 10-day disabled list last week with a strained left groin muscle, an injury sustained while legging out a triple in Arizona. The club could theoretically have moved him to the 60-day DL to clear the 40-man roster spot without losing Heisey altogether but instead granted him his release.
It was an unceremonious, if necessary, conclusion to Heisey’s two-year tenure in Washington. A key bench contributor in 2016 who hit nine homers in the regular season and then another in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, the outfielder battled injuries this season and never got himself on track. He hit .162 with one homer and five RBIs in 79 plate appearances while also missing time with a ruptured right biceps tendon.
This week’s acquisition of Howie Kendrick from the Phillies also hurt Heisey’s chances of making an impact later this season if he healed from his current injury. Kendrick, who is hitting .345 with a .401 on-base percentage in 147 plate appearances, takes over as the primary right-handed backup both in left field and at second and third bases.
Meanwhile, the Nationals chose to use their allotted 26th roster spot for today’s doubleheader on Severino, who already was on the active 25-man roster. Technically speaking, though, they optioned the young catcher to Syracuse and then recalled him as the designated 26th player.
Severino thus will need to be optioned back to Triple-A after the doubleheader. That will leave the Nationals with a 13-man pitching staff for the moment, though more moves are likely forthcoming.
The roster finagling figures to continue for several more days. Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, of course, could force alterations. But even if the Nationals don’t make another deal they’ll still need to find a starting pitcher for Wednesday night’s game in Miami.
Today’s doubleheader leaves the Nats playing six games in five days, and thus needing a sixth starter. Stephen Strasburg isn’t eligible to return from the DL until Thursday, so he can’t be the choice. Jacob Turner, who has been with the Nationals pitching staff twice this season, is scheduled to start for Syracuse this afternoon, which would remove him from contention.
A.J. Cole, who started one game for the Nats earlier this season, would be available on extra rest.