Ruiz's season likely over, McGee designated for assignment

Keibert Ruiz catchers gear gray

PHILADELPHIA – Keibert Ruiz’s season has likely come to an abrupt end after the Nationals placed their young catcher on the injured list with a testicular contusion that forced him to remain in a St. Louis hospital overnight after he was struck by a foul ball during the team’s series finale against the Cardinals.

Ruiz was discharged and was flying to Philadelphia late this afternoon to rejoin the Nationals, who formally placed him on the 10-day IL prior to tonight’s game against the Phillies. Manager Davey Martinez, though, said Ruiz has been instructed not to partake in any strenuous activities for three weeks, which leaves him almost no chance of making it back before the season ends in 26 days.

“We hope that he just continues to get better,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he’s doing. But with everything going on, the doctors said he’s not able to do anything strenuous for three weeks. So we’re just going to take it day by day and take it from there.”

Martinez generally was encouraged about Ruiz’s progress in the last day and didn’t sound overly concerned about his long-term well-being. Assuming his season is over, the 24-year-old will finish with a .251 batting average, 22 doubles, seven homers, 36 RBIs and a .673 OPS across 433 plate appearances.

Ruiz enters the day having caught 106 games, second only to the Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto this season. He has thrown out 18 basestealers while also picking off four runners, giving him 22 total runners thrown out (again, second only to Realmuto among all major league catchers).

Continue reading

Steve Cishek uses distinctive delivery, veteran presence to lift Nationals bullpen

steve cishek pitches white

Steve Cishek grew up a Red Sox fan in Cape Cod, Mass., modeling his pitching after two of Boston’s aces, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe. He wanted his wind up to mimic Martinez’s, and his mechanics to be like Lowe’s.

Somewhere along the way, Cishek molded a delivery that was completely different from that of Martinez or Lowe: a sidearm motion that he would use to establish himself as a big league reliever. 

But for years, he had no idea his delivery was distinct.

“Somehow I came out the way I am today,” Cishek said. “I've had some pointers here and there, but even in high school people would ask how I throw like that and I had no idea what they were talking about.” 

Cishek says he’s a self-taught sidearm pitcher, and doesn’t know how to throw any other way — noting that it actually feels like he’s delivering the ball in the typical, over-the-top fashion when he pitches. It wasn’t until he was in college at Division-II Carson-Newman, watching video of himself pitch for the first time, that he realized how low he actually delivered the ball. 

Continue reading

Depleted Nationals fall short to Mets, release Escobar (updated)

sanchez fires white

For 2 hours, 48 minutes Tuesday night, a severely depleted Nationals lineup rode youthful emotion (and an excellent performance from its pitching staff) to a most unlikely victory over the first-place Mets. An otherwise depressing day during a depressing season at least included this uplifting note on the field.

Then reality set back in this afternoon. That same lineup was shut out by Mets starter Chris Bassitt, while Aníbal Sánchez, Jordan Weems and the pitching staff was roughed by New York’s potent lineup during a 9-5 thrashing in the finale of their three-game series that only seemed close because of a furious, five-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.

As this all played out, Juan Soto and Josh Bell were being introduced as the newest members of the Padres during a press conference at Petco Park, inserted by manager Bob Melvin into an already fearsome lineup as his new No. 2 and No. 4 hitters.

It was a stark reminder of what transpired back here at Nationals Park one day earlier, and what that means the rest of this season (and perhaps beyond) will look like for the local ballclub.

"Soto and Bell were a big part of the team," Sánchez said. "But at the end, we have to understand that baseball is like that. I think everybody is ready to play every single day. Everything happened one day. I think the next day, everybody ... it's not about forgetting, but they're ready to play."

Continue reading

Soto day-to-day with tight calf, Tetreault lands on IL

Soto hit gray

Though he’s not in today’s lineup, and may not be for a few more days, Juan Soto believes he avoided any serious injury to his left calf during Sunday’s loss to the Marlins.

Soto said the MRI he underwent late Sunday showed that “everything was fine” and that he’s only dealing with tightness in the calf. He won’t play this afternoon’s series finale against Miami but hopes to return sometime during this week’s series at the Phillies.

“We’re going to be good,” he said. “They said it’s just a little bit tight. It’s going to take a couple days to see, and then go. It all depends how I’m feeling day by day.”

Soto hurt himself while tracking down Bryan De La Cruz’s third-inning double off the wall in right field. After retrieving the ball, planting and making a long throw to second base, he felt his left leg “grab.” It wasn’t enough to pull him from the game at that point, but after he ran the bases in the bottom of the fourth, he realized it was best if he departed and not risk anything worse.

“I just felt a little tight behind my knee; it was kind of my calf,” he said. “After the play, the double by De La Cruz, I threw the ball and something just grabbed me right there and it stays and stays and stays. And I think my other at-bat, the rundown, it didn’t feel that way. So I just took the decision to come out of the game and make sure everything’s fine before I keep going and make things worse.”

Continue reading

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

Austin Voth gives up homer gray

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.

Continue reading