The Nationals had noticed how well Carl Edwards Jr. was pitching at Triple-A Rochester for several weeks now. Eventually, it got to the point where they felt there was no reason to wait any longer, so this afternoon they called up the 30-year-old and added his experience to their bullpen.
Edwards, owner of a 3.77 ERA and 1.138 WHIP in 206 career big league appearances, had his contract purchased. Fellow right-hander Andres Machado was optioned to Rochester to open a spot on the 26-man roster, with Mason Thompson transferred to the 60-day injured list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
In 13 games at Triple-A, Edwards was utterly dominant. His ERA was 0.63, with only one run allowed in 14 1/3 innings. He surrendered only three hits while walking four and striking out 17. There was nothing not to like about that performance.
“Carl was really throwing the ball well,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I spoke to (Rochester manager) Matt LeCroy, and we thought it was time to get him up here. He did everything we asked him to do. He checked all the boxes, and I think he can help us here.”
Martinez knows Edwards well, having both been employed by the Cubs before. From his debut in 2015 through 2018, Edwards posted a 3.06 ERA and 1.069 WHIP over 172 games. He also made 15 postseason appearances over the years, including eight during Chicago’s historic 2016 World Series run. (Though around here he’s perhaps best known for giving up a towering home run to Bryce Harper during the 2017 National League Division Series.)
The last three seasons have turned Edwards into a baseball nomad. Beset by injuries to his shoulder, forearm and oblique muscle, he bounced around from the Cubs to the Padres to the Mariners to the Braves to the Blue Jays to the White Sox before finally joining the Nationals this spring on a minor league contract.
He didn’t make the club out of spring training but said today he immediately began preparing to earn his way onto the roster in short order.
“I already had that thought in my head,” he said. “It’s just something about this year that’s been different for me. I went in there, and of course I’m trying to make the team, but I didn’t get mad. I wasn’t feeling that kind of way.”
Edwards was reluctant to get into any details about what has allowed him to pitch so well so far in 2022, insisting multiple times it’s been a product of having fun more than anything else.
“I’ve lived and I’ve learned from multiple mistakes I’ve made, different things,” he said. “I wake up now and just tell myself: I got to see the sun rise. It’s a blessing. I get to play baseball. That’s a blessing. I’m just going to enjoy it here and see what the season brings.”
Machado’s demotion comes despite a 2.45 ERA and 1.182 WHIP in 10 games with the Nationals, though he hadn’t appeared since April 30 in San Francisco.
“Obviously we’re going to need Machado,” Martinez said. “It’s a long year. I talked to him. We just want to get him out there on a regular basis and get him sharp again.”
* The Nationals made a late change to their lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Mets, scratching shortstop Alcides Escobar and replacing him with Dee Strange-Gordon. No immediate reason was given for the change.
Escobar has been struggling this season but enjoyed an uptick in performance over the weekend in Anaheim, both at the plate and in the field. Strange-Gordon had started one game in Escobar’s place in shortstop while also making a start in left field after returning from a 2 1/2-week stint on the IL with an undisclosed illness.
* Aníbal Sánchez and Will Harris are both here in D.C. this week and both are throwing again after extended periods in which they were restricted from doing so. Both veteran right-handers are on the 60-day IL, Sanchez with a nerve impingement in his neck, Harris while recovering from last summer’s thoracic outlet syndrome and a follow-up procedure during spring training.
At this point, both pitchers are only throwing on flat ground, not off a mound.