Nats designate Voth, promote two arms; Ross to have Tommy John surgery again

NEW YORK – Desperate for some fresh arms out of the bullpen after Monday night’s 13-6 trouncing at the hands of the Mets, the Nationals promoted Jordan Weems and Francisco Perez from Triple-A Rochester, moves that cost Andres Machado and Austin Voth their jobs.

Voth was designated for assignment, potentially ending the right-hander’s nine-year relationship with the organization. A fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft, he made his major league debut in 2018 and enjoyed his best run of success in 2019 but progressively struggled more and more since.

In 19 appearances this season, Voth compiled a gaudy 10.13 ERA and 2.143 WHIP. Over 92 total appearances since making his debut, he had a 5.70 ERA and 1.453 WHIP.

“I was more frustrated, because I sat down with him daily to try to figure it out,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We looked at all kinds of stuff, all kinds of numbers. We tried some things with him, and he was open to them. You saw some signs that maybe this was going to work, and unfortunately it didn’t. It’s tough. I really believe he was going to get through it, and it just didn’t happen.”

Voth, who was out of options, can either be claimed off waivers by another club or be traded. If he goes unclaimed, he’ll have the ability to decide whether to report to Rochester or sign a minor league contract with another organization.

Machado had only been recalled from Triple-A on Saturday but was sent back after allowing three runs in 1 1/3 innings in relief of Erick Fedde during Monday’s loss, the Nats needing others who would potentially be available to pitch tonight.

They settled on Weems and Perez, who both have some major league experience and both were pitching quite well in Rochester.

Weems had a 3.38 ERA and six saves in 19 games, striking out 32 while walking only five batters across 24 innings. The 29-year-old has made 16 major league appearances the last two seasons for the Athletics and Diamondbacks and feels like he’s in as good a place right now as he’s ever been.

“Coming into spring training, that’s what I was striving to do: Helping this team out any way possible,” he said. “It feels good to be here with the guys. Hopefully I can help out any way I can.”

Perez has already spent time with the Nats earlier this season, allowing just one run in 4 1/3 innings but walking six batters while striking out only three. The 24-year-old lefty displayed much better control at Triple-A, striking out 21 while walking only four in 15 games.

There are probably more moves to come Wednesday, with the Nationals needing a spot starter for the series finale. That start is likely to go to Evan Lee, a 25-year-old left-hander who is 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA at Double-A Harrisburg and was at Citi Field this afternoon throwing for the major league coaching staff, with a locker adorning his name already in place in the visitors clubhouse.

Lee, a 15th-round pick in the 2018 draft, is getting the call because he’s already on schedule (having just pitched Friday) and because he’s already on the 40-man roster, as opposed to Triple-A Rochester right-hander Jackson Tetreault (who was another option).

Whether this is a one-time start for Lee or an opportunity to stay here remains to be seen. It’ll depend on his performance, and it could also depend on Stephen Strasburg’s performance Friday night in Rochester, where the veteran righty will make his third (and potentially final) rehab start.

Strasburg, who tossed five hitless innings on 58 pitches Sunday for low Single-A Fredericksburg, is scheduled to go six innings and 80-85 pitches in this start, according to Martinez. It’s possible that will be enough for the 33-year-old to declare himself ready to make his 2022 debut roughly 10 months after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery.

Strasburg had been joined throughout the last two months of rehab by Joe Ross, who was attempting to return from an elbow injury, but the right-hander has now made the decision to have Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career.

Ross, who had his first surgery in 2017 performed by Dallas orthopedist Keith Meister, will have this one performed by Neal ElAttrache in Southern California. The surgery carries the typical 12-to-18 month recovery time, which in Ross’ case is complicated because he’s eligible for free agency at season’s end.

The Nationals have already expressed interest in keeping Ross in the organization through the process.

“I told him I’d love to have you here close,” Martinez said. “He’s got a guy in Dallas he works with religiously, but I would love for you to be around the guys and get some work in here, so we can keep eyes on you. But we feel like he’s a National. Right now, he still is a National. We’re going to keep it that way.”

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