MIAMI – MacKenzie Gore will make another rehab start for Triple-A Rochester, leaving the left-hander with enough time to make only major league start for the Nationals before season’s end.
Gore, who threw 67 pitches over four innings of one-run ball Wednesday in his third rehab start, will return to Rochester and attempt to build up to five innings Monday against Worcester.
“We talked to him before he left about trying to throw strike one every (at-bat) and work from there. And as the game went along, they said he started doing a lot more of that,” manager Davey Martinez said. “That’s encouraging. For me, it’s just about honing in on his mechanics, throwing more strikes. And once he does that, I think the five innings and 75 pitches will come.”
Already on the 15-day injured list with left elbow inflammation when the Nationals acquired him as part of the haul of prospects the Padres sent them for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, Gore has slowly built his arm back up over the last six weeks.
The plan all along has included the possibility of one or two major league starts before season’s end. At this point, there wouldn’t be enough time for him to make more than one.
If all goes well for Gore on Monday, he would be lined up to pitch again Oct. 1, when the Nationals have a day-night doubleheader scheduled against the Phillies. They could in theory use the extra roster spot allotted for doubleheaders on him, have him start one of the games and then send him into the offseason feeling confident about the status of his arm.
Tempting as it has been to try to get Gore back for more than that, the Nats have stuck with their rehab plan and don’t appear to regret it.
“It’s him. He wants to come back and pitch,” Martinez said. “For me, as much as I do want to see him, it’s about sticking to the process and making sure that when he does come back, he’s ready. I just want to see him pitching in the big leagues.
“I’m not going to put any limitations on him, but we’re definitely going to keep a close eye on him. It may only be three innings, it may be four innings. We don’t know that. But the fact that he worked really hard to get back, if he does pitch in a game for us this year, it would be awesome.”
* Patrick Corbin played catch this afternoon and said his back felt “a lot better” than it did the previous day, according to Martinez, leaving the door open for the lefty to rejoin the Nationals rotation after he was forced to depart his last start in the first inning.
Corbin was pulled from Tuesday night’s game in Atlanta after throwing only 12 pitches to three batters, having tweaked his back on his final pitch.
That he was able to resume throwing so quickly suggests the injury isn’t serious, and the Nationals will proceed cautiously, hoping he can make his next turn in the rotation. They haven’t announced pitching plans yet for next week’s three-game series against the Braves, but they could have Cory Abbott start on full rest Monday and Paolo Espino on Tuesday before potentially needing Corbin on Wednesday.
It’s been another disappointing year for Corbin, who has lost a major-league-high 18 games while also leading the league in earned runs (100) and hits allowed (200).
He has been better down the stretch, though, allowing two or fewer runs in four of his last five outings before Tuesday’s abbreviated appearance.
“The last four or five starts, he’s been throwing the ball really well, which is encouraging, which is great for us,” Martinez said. “I’d like for him to continue doing what he’s doing and finish out the year. I don’t want him to finish out the year being hurt. But I’m not going to push him, either. If he’s hurt, we’ll regroup and get him ready for spring training."