Struggling Williams will skip next turn but make one more start

The Nationals will skip Trevor Williams’ next turn in the rotation, but the struggling right-hander will make another start during the season’s final week.

Manager Davey Martinez said he wanted to give Williams a breather after a string of subpar outings but did not want to shut him down entirely or move him to the bullpen.

“I spoke to him, and he wants to finish the year off,” Martinez said. “I thought the best thing was to skip him one, and then let him have one more.”

Williams lasted only two innings in his most recent outing in Milwaukee, throwing a whopping 70 pitches in the process. He hasn’t completed five innings in any of his last three outings, and his ERA now stands at 5.55, with a league-leading 34 homers surrendered.

Williams’ 29 starts are his most since 2018 with the Pirates, his 141 innings his most since 2019.

“His (velocity) is down a little bit,” Martinez said. “I talked to him, and he said it has been a long year. But he’s really trying to push himself, because he understands the importance of pushing himself this year for next year. The more he can push his body through this year, he knows what he has to do over the winter to get through it next year.”

Williams is signed through 2024, guaranteed $7 million next year. With young starters MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, Jake Irvin, Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli (once he returns from Tommy John surgery) all penciled into a future rotation, plus Patrick Corbin (due $35.4 million) entering the final year of his contract, Williams could easily be squeezed out.

For now, though, Martinez continues to speak of the 31-year-old as part of his rotation plan for next season.

“He’s been awesome,” the manager said. “He takes the ball. We’ve got two veteran guys that really have been incredible. They don’t complain. They take the ball every five days. They were great with our young starters. Good clubhouse guys. I love both him and Corbin. They’ve done a tremendous job with our young guys.”

The Nationals’ weekend rotation against the Braves will feature Irvin in Thursday night’s opener, followed by Corbin and Joan Adon. Sunday’s starter is to-be-determined, but it stands to reason the team could give that assignment to Thaddeus Ward.

Ward, the Rule 5 draftee who recently returned from a long stint on the injured list, was built up as a starter throughout his time on minor league rehab, but his lone appearance since returning to the big leagues was a one-inning relief outing Monday night.

* Tanner Rainey threw a bullpen session in front of coaches and trainers Tuesday, his fastball topping out in the mid-90s. The reliever, in the final stages of recovery from Tommy John surgery, will now throw a simulated game sometime this weekend.

The Nationals will decide after that whether or not to activate Rainey off the 60-day IL and get him into a couple of games during the season’s final week.

Game 154 lineups: Nats vs. Braves
Game 153 lineups: Nats vs. White Sox

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