Lefty Nolin promoted from Triple-A, struggling Clay optioned

Looking for more pitchers who can provide innings during the 24 innings of baseball on tap over the next 24 hours, the Nationals promoted left-hander Sean Nolin from Triple-A today, optioning reliever Sam Clay to Rochester in the process.

Nolin, 31, is on a big league roster for the first time since 2015, when he started six games for the Athletics. After bouncing between the minor leagues, independent ball and even Japan in the ensuing years, he wound up in the Nationals organization this season and posted a 3.80 ERA and 1.289 WHIP in 11 games (nine of them starts) for Rochester.

Nolin last pitched six days ago, tossing six scoreless innings against Syracuse. That makes him available either to pitch in relief or perhaps even start some portion of this evening's pseudo-doubleheader against the Mets.

"I told him just be ready for any possible scenario, whether it's the first game or the second game," manager Davey Martinez said in his pregame Zoom session with reporters. "Right now, we're just concerned about the first game. We've still got eight innings to play."

Tuesday night's game, which was suspended by rain in the top of the second with the Nationals leading 3-1, will resume today at 4:10 p.m., with Joe Ross taking over on the mound for Paolo Espino, who was burned up despite throwing only 14 pitches in the bottom of the first. (Though Martinez did say Espino will bat for himself when the game resumes with nobody out and a runner on first so Ross can focus on finishing his warm-up in the bullpen.)

Ross was originally scheduled to start tonight's 7:10 p.m. game, which has now been condensed to seven innings. The Nats will piece together that game from a pitching standpoint, with Nolin perhaps making an appearance along the way. Espino also could theoretically figure into the plan, depending on how he feels following his unexpectedly brief start Tuesday.

"We spoke to him last night, and he said he feels fine," Martinez said. "So I told him, 'Just get here in the morning, go through your regular routine and see how you feel.'"

The Nationals also will be allowed to call up a 27th player for the nightcap, which is being treated like a doubleheader game.

Thumbnail image for Clay-Throws-Red-ST-Sidebar.jpgClay was demoted to Triple-A after spending the entire season to date in the Nats bullpen, his first in the big leagues after a long minor league career in the Twins farm system. The 28-year-old left-hander has shown glimpses of potential, especially his ability to induce ground balls, but overall he owns a 5.80 ERA and 1.710 WHIP in 46 appearances.

In 27 outings dating back to June 1, Clay has a gaudy 8.10 ERA and 1.900 WHIP, with opponents batting .333 off him.

"I talked to him about just attacking the strike zone; the walks with Sam was the big issue," Martinez said. "And being more precise against left-handed hitters, knowing what he wants to do with left-handed hitters. We need him to get outs, especially against left-handed hitters. So he's going to go down and work on some things. You haven't seen the last of Sam, I know that."

In order to clear a spot on their 40-man roster to add Nolin, the Nationals transferred Stephen Strasburg to the 60-day injured list. Strasburg, who had thoracic outlet surgery two weeks ago, has begun a long rehab process the club hopes will leave the 2019 World Series MVP ready to start the 2022 season on time.

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