As Cade Cavalli deals with another shutdown and Josiah Gray deals with September struggles, the Nationals at least are seeing some positive signs with the third member of the young pitching trio they hope to build their rotation around.
MacKenzie Gore made his second rehab start for Triple-A Rochester on Friday and tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings on 57 pitches, another step on his path toward making his Nats debut before season’s end.
Gore, on the 15-day injured list with elbow inflammation since late July (before he was part of the Nationals’ blockbuster trade with the Padres for Juan Soto and Josh Bell), built up both his innings and pitch count in his second rehab start for Rochester.
The left-hander did put six Lehigh Valley batters on base in his 2 2/3 innings (four singles, two walks) but didn’t allow any of them to score while striking out two. He threw 32 of his 57 pitches for strikes.
Assuming Gore came out of this outing healthy, the Nats are likely to have him make another rehab start in five or six days, building up to roughly 70 pitches. Depending on how that goes, the club could decide to activate him off the IL with enough time to make two big league starts before the season ends Oct. 5.
The Nationals could also opt to have Gore make two more rehab starts and pitch only once in the majors before heading home for the winter. Either way, the organization has stressed its desire to have the 23-year-old pitch at least one time at the big league level, allowing him to head into the offseason free of concerns about the state of his elbow.
* Rosters for this year’s Arizona Fall League were unveiled Friday, and the Nationals’ 10-man contingent is headlined by one of the other top prospects they received from the Padres in last month’s trade.
Outfielder Robert Hassell III was selected for this year’s Fall League, which is designed to give top minor leaguers an opportunity to play with and against elite talent, often as a final step before reaching the majors the following year.
Hassell, currently playing for Double-A Harrisburg after beginning his Nationals career with high Single-A Wilmington, is the most prominent prospect in the organization to be selected. He’ll play for the Peoria Javelinas, with nine other Nats farmhands joining him when the league begins play next month.
Others selected include Harrisburg second baseman Darren Baker, low Single-A Fredericksburg first baseman Will Frizzell, Harrisburg outfielder Yasel Antuna, Harrisburg catchers Drew Millas and Brady Lindsly, Harrisburg left-hander Tim Cate, Wilmington left-hander Lucas Knowles, and Wilmington right-handers Orlando Ribalta and Amos Willingham.