Ramírez designated, Abbott recalled in latest bullpen move

The Nationals, for the second straight day, designated a struggling reliever for assignment, with Erasmo Ramírez suffering that fate this afternoon in the wake of a particularly ragged appearance during Tuesday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, and Cory Abbott recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take his spot.

Ramírez joined fellow right-hander Andrés Machado, who was designated for assignment Tuesday, in getting dropped from the active roster. Machado officially cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Rochester today. Because he had already been through that process over the winter, he had the option to declare himself a free agent but instead chose to remain in the organization.

Ramírez will face a similar decision in the next few days. The 33-year-old got the news after retiring only two of the six batters he faced in the top of the sixth Tuesday night, having hit the first batter he faced on the first pitch he threw, nearly hitting the next batter on his next pitch and then committing a balk when he turned to make a pickoff attempt to first base but never threw the ball because nobody was covering.

That outing left Ramírez with an unsightly 6.33 ERA and 1.556 WHIP in 23 games this season, a dramatic drop in effectiveness from the previous year. In 60 games in 2022, Ramírez produced a 2.92 ERA and 1.077 WHIP, earning the team’s Pitcher of the Year Award for his performance.

“It’s tough. Erasmo meant a lot to this team, and to me,” manager Davey Martinez said. “This guy worked really hard to get back to the big leagues and had an unbelievable year last year. This year, he just couldn’t find himself.”

Abbott rejoins the active roster for the third time this season, the eighth time in the last 12 months. The 27-year-old right-hander, who was scheduled to start tonight for Rochester, will be available to pitch multiple innings of relief should Patrick Corbin not last deep into the game.

Abbott had a 5.71 ERA in nine games (all starts) at Triple-A this season, with 51 strikeouts in 41 innings. He gave up one run in four innings across two appearances for the Nats earlier this year.

“Every time he’s been up here, he’s done fairly well,” Martinez said. “He’s going to get an opportunity to pitch in the bullpen. Just get us outs, and throw strikes.”

The transactions of the last 48 hours leave the Nationals with two open slots now on their 40-man roster, so they could choose to add minor leaguers not already on that roster, or even acquire major leaguers from other organizations if they want. One of the spots figures to go at some point to Sean Doolittle, who is currently pitching for Double-A Harrisburg but is close to returning from last summer’s elbow surgery.

* Riley Adams is catching tonight, which isn’t that unusual a development except for two key points: 1) He’s starting against an opposing right-hander, and 2) He’s starting something other than a series finale.

This is Adams’ 12th overall start this season in place of Keibert Ruiz, but it’s the first time he’s caught a night game since April 8 at Colorado.

The reason for Adams getting the nod tonight instead of Thursday: Martinez preferred the matchup against Diamondbacks right-hander Zach Davies, with Ruiz set to face right-hander Merrill Kelly in Thursday’s series finale.

Martinez also liked the pairing of Adams with Corbin. The two have worked together twice this season, with Corbin producing a 3.65 ERA. In 16 total games as a battery over the last three seasons, Corbin has a 3.96 ERA with Adams.

“Tomorrow, we’ve got an early day game. I like Keibert on the matchup tomorrow and Riley today,” the manager said. “And Riley’s caught Corbin fairly well, so he gets the opportunity to catch today.”

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