Just like 10 days ago at the trade deadline, all the attention at Nationals Park is focused on Juan Soto and Josh Bell, who return to D.C. as members of the Padres after the historic deal.
And just like 10 days ago, even though all that attention is on the now former Nationals, the current club still has a game to get ready for tonight.
In order to do so, the Nats announced a handful of roster moves before tonight’s series opener against the Padres. Tyler Clippard has been returned from his rehab assignment and reinstated from the 15-day injured list and Jake McGee was activated to the active roster.
Clippard appeared in one game for the Nationals before being placed on the IL with a groin strain on July 22. He gave up one hit in two scoreless innings against the Braves on July 14. The veteran right-hander appeared in three rehab games with Triple-A Rochester, tossing four scoreless innings of relief across the three outings.
“Clippard, we felt like he's another guy, he's done well down in the minors for us,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame press conference. “As you know, he's a veteran guy, but he knows how to get guys out. He's got some funk to him. So I think he'll be able to help us, especially against some of our lefties because he has such a great changeup and a different look. So for me, it'll be kind of a guy that we can use against some guys where they go left-right-left, that we could possibly use him in that way.”
At 37 years old, Clippard does have reverse splits over his 12-year career in the major leagues: He’s held left-handed batters to a .190/.267/.326 slash line while righties slash .206/.293/.382 against him.
Will Martinez save Clippard to face a certain lefty-hitting right fielder who bats second and wears No. 22?
“I'm thinking about it,” he said. “I'll tell you right now, he ain't gonna be afraid.”
Meanwhile, McGee was claimed off waivers from the Brewers on Tuesday and met the team in D.C. today. The left-hander appeared in 30 games between the Giants and Brewers this year, going 1-2 with three saves and a 7.00 ERA. A 13-year major league veteran, the 36-year-old has a 3.67 ERA with 79 saves in 638 career games. He recorded a career-high 31 saves with the Giants in 2021.
To make room for the two relievers, Andres Machado was optioned to Triple-A Rochester along with Mason Thompson, who was optioned on Wednesday.
“The good thing about having some depth is that we can do some different things and give some guys a breather,” Martinez said. “Machado has been pitching well, but he's been pitching a lot just like the rest of our guys.”
Machado is 1-0 with a 4.57 ERA in 38 games for the Nationals this season, while Thompson has appeared in nine games with a 1.13 ERA with seven strikeouts and three walks.
Some good news may be coming soon for the Nats rotation, as Erick Fedde threw a three-inning simulated game before batting practice and MacKenzie Gore played his first game of catch as a National.
Fedde has been on the 15-day IL since July 30 (retroactive to July 27) with right-shoulder inflammation. He threw two bullpen sessions over the last week, while steadily increasing his pitch count leading up to 47 in this sim game.
“It went (well). We'll see how he feels tomorrow and then we'll go from there,” Martinez said. “If he feels good, I'm going to talk to him, but I would imagine that he's got to go out and do one rehab start and get him up to about 75-80 pitches.”
Gore, rehabbing left elbow inflammation, just played a simple game of catch, a small but significant step in his process with the Nationals, who still expect the young left-hander to be available to pitch later this season.
“We gotta continue to build him up,” Martinez said of Gore’s next steps. “So I'm assuming he's gonna have a couple of days where he just plays catch, we'll stretch him out, play some long toss, and then we'll go from there.”