A two-game interleague series doesn't usually bring for a lot of news and notes at this point in the season. But the Nationals did have some updates on two bullpen arms that are currently down on the farm.
Most significantly, Tanner Rainey has been shut down at Triple-A Rochester for the time being with an injury to his side. It's another bad break for the promising young reliever, who is struggling through this season.
"Rainey had a pain in his side," Nationals manager Davey Martinez said today during his pregame Zoom session with reporters. "So we shut him down to get that out of there. He had an MRI, everything came back negative. But I told him, I said, 'Just make sure it's gone before you start throwing again.' But he'll be back throwing hopefully soon."
It's been a tough ride for Rainey this year, but even moreso over the last couple of weeks. He was optioned to Rochester at the beginning of August with a 7.20 ERA over his first 31 big league appearances this season. Then he was designated as the 27th man for last week's doubleheader against the Mets and gave up three hits, including a two-run home run to Jonathan Villar, in the 5-4 nightcap loss.
His ERA with the Nationals now stands at 7.62.
Since initially being optioned on Aug. 1, Rainey had only made three appearances with the Red Wings, allowing two hits, one run and two walks with four strikeouts over three innings.
Even though Rainey is shut down for now, Martinez is still hopeful the right-hander will return before the end of the season.
"We're gonna see how he does here in the next few days," Martinez said. "But I've talked to Rainey. He wants to come back and he wants to pitch. He wants to finish this year on a good note. So we'll get him ready. And hopefully it won't take long and we'll get him back on the mound and we'll go from there."
Also at Rochester, Wander Suero hasn't pitched since Friday. But Martinez says that is just due to regular off-days for the reliever.
Suero was optioned on Aug. 3 and has also made four appearances with the Red Wings. Over 3 2/3 innings, he has given up nine hits, seven runs and one walk with just two strikeouts. So the Nationals are giving him a mini reset and a couple of things to work on outside of game situations.
"It's all about his location. He's been getting hit pretty hard," Martinez said. "I watched some of the videos. A lot of our pitchers, again, are right down the middle. I know we talked a lot about just him knowing what he wants to do with each pitch. He has an unbelievable cutter. Most of his pitches do cut, but we need to get him to understand that he needs to stay away from the middle of the strike zone and start pitching away from contact. And utilizing his cutter a little bit better, utilizing his secondary pitches a little bit better. So he's gonna keep working. We gotta get him right. I've said this before, I believe he's still a big part of our future. But we want to get him right."
With seemingly no physical ailment affecting Suero, Martinez is also expecting to see the right-hander back in D.C. before season's end.
"He's been great," Martinez said. "He knows he needs to get better. The numbers show that he gets hit hard. So he knows he needs to get better and he's gonna work to get his way back here."