Nationals manager Davey Martinez delivered news this morning from a rainy Citi Field, where the Nats hope to wrap up their four-game set with the Mets before they board the train for Baltimore tonight.
The club announced that left-hander Sam Freeman has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a left flexor mass strain. He had a 0.00 ERA in five innings so far this season. The team activated right-hander Will Harris from the injured list following his recovery from a right groin strain.
"That was the move we were going to make," Martinez said during the pregame Zoom video call. "It's good to get Will back. He's back with us today. He's good to go."
Freeman's injury leaves only one left-hander available out of the bullpen in Sean Doolittle, who has struggled with his fastball velocity to begin this season. Doolittle has surrendered three homers and is 0-1 with a 15.00 ERA in five appearances. Martinez said he believes Doolittle can figure out his issues, and that he will rely on right-handers with good splits against left-handed hitters to pick up the slack in the meantime.
"I like (Harris) against left-handed hitters with his cutter," Martinez said. "(Wander) Suero could be effective. (Javy) Guerra could be effective. We'll just have to figure those things out as we go along. Once we get Doo right we will have Doo back, so hopefully somebody will get these lefties out. I have confidence in all these guys. We get late in the game we still got (Tanner) Rainey, you got (Daniel) Hudson, so the matchups don't really matter. These guys they know what they got to do.
"The thing is now as we go forward, it's three-batter minimum. They all know they are going to have to face lefties and righties, so it doesn't matter. You just got to try to match them up the best you can."
Austin Voth, who has a 1.80 ERA in his first two starts, will be on the mound for the Nats today. With the team facing a shortened bench and game-and-a-half tomorrow night in Baltimore, the skipper hopes Voth can eat up some innings.
"I'm worried about today and I'm hoping that Voth gives us six or seven good innings," Martinez said. "That will definitely be helpful. Hopefully, we will try to stay away from (Erick) Fedde today because we do have 13, 14 innings to come tomorrow. The biggest thing today is if we have a chance to win, all hands on deck today and then we will worry about tomorrow when we get there."
The Nationals' other left-hander is Roenis ElÃas, who has an injury similar to the one ailing Freeman. ElÃas has been on the 60-day injured list retroactive to July 13 and is not having a smooth rehab so far.
"He threw the other day and had a little setback," Martinez said. "Said he felt his forearm tighten up again. Once again, we shut him down and he will get re-evaluated. This has been a crazy year for him, missing practically all the (summer training) 2.0 and try to come back and then hurting his elbow. So now we just got to take some time and see what happens.
"We are going to take our time with him. It stinks. He wanted to be here. I saw him before we left. He was upset that all the stuff has happened to him. I told him, 'The big thing is to try to get you healthy.' At this point, whatever it takes, however long it takes, we just got to get him healthy."
Tomorrow's scheduled starter, Stephen Strasburg, has been nursing a nerve issue in his hand. Martinez says Strasburg is determined to work through the problem while he still pitches in games.
"We have talked to him," Martinez said. "He's adamant about trying to pitch through this right now. But we are going to keep a very close eye on him tomorrow. We will see where he is at. We will see how far he can get. Hopefully, tomorrow he gets through it and there is no issues. If it does become an issue, then we have to re-evaluate and sit down with him again and figure out what the best steps are for him."
"He's OK. I am just being very cautious," Martinez said. "Michael is going to play today. We will give a day (to Robles). We got all these games coming up, so we will just give him a day today. He will be available, hopefully, later in the game. But he is doing fine."
Updated: The Nats have placed Doolittle on the 10-day injured list with right knee fatigue and have selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Seth Romero. The 2017 first-round selection last pitched in the minor leagues in 2018 but has impressed the coaching staff with his stuff, especially his slider, which Baseball America ranked "best slider" among Nationals minor leaguers. Whenever he gets into a game for the Nats will be his major league debut. He is 24.