Sanchez DFA was prompted by need to clear 40-man spot

Saturday night’s decision to designate struggling right-hander Aaron Sanchez for assignment was prompted by the Nationals’ need to clear a 40-man roster spot in order to account for the fill-in starter they’ll need Wednesday in New York.

Manager Davey Martinez said the club will have someone not currently in the rotation start Wednesday’s series finale against the Mets, an outing that became necessary due to Friday night’s rainout and Saturday’s subsequent day-night doubleheader against the Rockies.

Martinez insisted the decision hasn’t been made yet and likely won’t until Tuesday, but acknowledged it played a role in Saturday night’s DFA decision with Sanchez.

“We felt like we’re going to need a spot here next week,” the manager said prior to today’s series finale against Colorado. “We felt like right now was a good time to start thinking about what we’re going to do for Wednesday. I can tell you right now, we have a lot of different options and things we’re thinking about. We won’t have a decision until probably Tuesday.”

The schedule does limit the team’s options to some extent. The organization’s top two pitching prospects, Cade Cavalli and Cole Henry, each had dominant starts Saturday night, with Cavalli tossing seven scoreless innings for Triple-A Rochester and Henry pitching four perfect innings for Double-A Harrisburg. Neither would be ready to come back and pitch Wednesday, though, removing them from the equation for now.

Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, is making his second rehab start for low Single-A Fredericksburg this afternoon. Strasburg is scheduled to throw 4-5 innings and approximately 70 pitches and then join the Nationals on their trip to New York this evening to continue his between-starts routine. The 33-year-old, recovering from last summer’s thoracic outlet surgery, needs at least one or two more rehab starts after today before he’s deemed ready to make his 2022 debut.

The potential minor league call-up who lines up best for Wednesday would be Jackson Tetreault, a 25-year-old right-hander who is 4-2 with a 3.35 ERA for Rochester and on Friday allowed two runs over six innings. A seventh-round pick in the 2017 draft who doesn’t rank among the Nationals’ top prospects, Tetreault isn’t currently on the 40-man roster.

“That starter could come from off the 40-man, yeah,” Martinez said. “We’re weighing all our different options. But we won’t make that decision until Tuesday.”

Double-A Harrisburg left-hander Evan Lee also started Friday, allowing four runs on 10 hits over five innings, and is already on the 40-man roster but has less experience than Tetreault.

The Nationals’ other option for Wednesday would involve using a reliever like Josh Rogers or Paolo Espino to start the game at Citi Field and then fill their spot in the bullpen with someone from the minor leagues.

Once they get through Wednesday’s game, the Nats won’t need a fifth starter again until June 11 against the Brewers, at which point Strasburg could be ready to come off the IL or the organization could determine Cavalli is ready to be promoted to make his major league debut.

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