The Nationals have decided not to give MacKenzie Gore a start before season’s end, not wanting to push the left-hander to come off the injured list given the shaky weekend forecast and his stamina issues during a lengthy minor league rehab stint.
Gore, who was acquired from the Padres while on the 15-day IL with left elbow inflammation, had been building himself back up with the intention of making one or two big league starts before the season ends. And after throwing 72 pitches over 3 2/3 innings Monday in his fourth rehab outing for Triple-A Rochester, he expressed optimism he’d make a start against the Phillies this weekend, even if he was limited to three or four innings.
But after conversations with manager Davey Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo, Gore was told his season would end now, with an offseason plan implemented to help him build up more strength and stamina heading into spring training.
“For me, that’s good enough,” Martinez said. “When we started this and started your rehab stuff, that’s the point we wanted to get to. For me, if it was something different – if we didn’t have enough pitchers, or whatever, which we do – it would be a different conversation. But I don’t want to push it. I think we’re in a good spot right now.”
Gore had totaled 70 big league innings for the Padres before going on the IL in late July, going 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA, 1.472 WHIP and 72 strikeouts, those numbers turning worse as he was beginning to deal with his elbow issue. He was highly motivated to come back and pitch for the Nationals, but the organization doesn’t feel like he needs to prove anything to them.
“He wanted to show us why we traded for him,” Martinez said. “But I told him: ‘We already know why we traded for you. Our job is to get you healthy and get you ready for next year now. You’re going to pitch a lot for us. Don’t worry about what I think of you. I think highly of you, and I think you’re going to have a really good career for us.’ ”
The Nationals’ rotation plan for the weekend (weather permitting) includes Tommy Romero (called up from Rochester) starting the nightcap of today’s doubleheader, with Aníbal Sánchez on Saturday and Patrick Corbin on Sunday.
Gore, like Cade Cavalli, will end the season without having pitched in a game down the stretch due to injury. But like Gore, the team is encouraged by Cavalli’s progress from the shoulder inflammation that landed him on the IL after one major league start.
Cavalli, who had to be shut down two weeks ago after a recurrence of pain, has resumed throwing in recent days and said he has had no issues throwing from 60 feet.
“It feels so good,” the rookie right-hander said. “It feels very smooth, clean. The ball’s coming out really good, and there’s no pain, which is awesome. I’m excited about that.”
Cavalli won’t have enough time to throw off a mound before the season ends, but he plans to get to that point after he returns home to Oklahoma.
* The Nationals announced their 2022 minor league awards before today’s game. Single-A outfielders Jeremy De La Rosa and James Wood were named Hitters of the Year, with Cavalli named Pitcher of the Year for his performance at Triple-A prior to his late-August promotion.
Single-A infielder Jordy Barley was named Defensive Player of the Year, with Single-A infielder outfielder Jacob Young named Baserunner of the Year.
Triple-A infielder Jake Alu won the “Nationals Way” Award, given to the minor leaguer “who best demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the ‘Washington Nationals Way.’ ”