Along with having Stephen Strasburg return for the Nationals’ critical series this week against the Phillies, manager Davey Martinez believes there is a very good chance his bullpen will get an important arm back in closer Kelvin Herrera.
Herrera, who arrived from the Kansas City Royals in a trade in mid-June, struggled to begin the second half of the season, going just 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA and three saves since the All-Star Break. In the first half of the season, most of that time with the Royals, Herrera was 2-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 14 saves.
Herrera has been nursing a right rotator cuff impingement on the disabled list since Aug. 8. He has missed 11 games. On Saturday, he went through a 15-pitch simulated game against the likes of Wilmer Difo and Spencer Kieboom, and Martinez says the right-hander “felt really, really good.
“We’re hoping that Herrera will be back. We’ll see. I can’t say that (Sean) Doolittle will be back, but hopefully, Herrera will be back.”
Doolittle is not wearing the walking boot any more, and continues his rehab from the left toe inflammation that has had him sidelined since July 7. Doolittle has missed 37 games. Martinez’s update makes it sound like Doolittle won’t be activated this week.
“He’s slowly but surely getting better,” Martinez said of Doolittle’s progress. “He threw off the mound and said he felt OK. Not great, but OK.”
Reliever Ryan Madson is also working his way back to the roster. He has been on the disabled list since Aug. 14 with lumbar nerve root irritation. Martinez said Madson is rehabbing in Arizona.
“He’s rehabbing in Phoenix with his guy (Frank “Jay” Schroeder of EVO UltraFit). We’ll touch base with him. I know (trainer Paul Lessard) is talking to him every day, says he’s feeling better. We’ll talk to him after the game and see where he’s at.”
The relievers are attempting to recover enough so that Martinez will be able to utilize the bullpen as envisioned when the season began, and then when Herrera was acquired. The skipper understands the Nats must go forward and win games as they get they look to get their top bullpen men healthy.
“Credit to these guys,” Martinez said. “They go out and give everything they got. Like I said yesterday, what I saw out of (Jimmy) Cordero was pretty impressive. If he could keep that up, we got something. I like what he did. He went out there and wasn’t afraid. Got a ground ball, just couldn’t turn a double play.
“(Wander) Suero’s been doing really, really well. I’ve asked him to do things that he’s never done before, which is pitch multiple innings, and has done well.
“And Justin Miller, who came out of nowhere and takes the ball every time he is asked to and goes out there and gives everything he has got.
“Getting (Koda) Glover back. I know it’s not the Doolittles, the Herreras or the Madsons, but you know what? I’m proud of these guys. They don’t complain, they take the ball, they’re giving us everything they’ve got.”