Nationals right-hander Tanner Rainey was one of only two relief pitchers who did not appear in last night’s 12-inning marathon against the Braves. The other was left-hander Ben Braymer, who had just been called up.
Rainey had pitched in three of the last four games. But today we found out there was another reason why Rainey did not pitch.
“He has a little tightness in his forearm, so we are going to give him a few days off,” said manager Davey Martinez during today’s pregame Zoom video session with reporters. “He went and got an MRI yesterday. It came back negative. I think he’s just tired, so he is going to have today off as well. We will see how he feels in the next couple of days. I just want to give him a couple days off.”
Closer Sean Doolittle appears to be done for the regular season. Martinez confirmed the oblique injury is as severe as the Nats had feared.
“He’s got a significant strain of his oblique, so he’s going to be out for a while,” Martinez said. “Don’t want to say the whole rest of the season, but at least for (regular) season. Maybe we get him back for the playoffs, but he’s going to be out significantly.”
Martinez said Doolittle will just rest for now.
“He can’t do much else,” the skipper said. “He was pretty sore yesterday.”
Even without using Rainey or Braymer, Martinez did go to seven relief pitchers in Friday’s contest. The skipper will check in with the bullpen individually today to decide possible usage tonight.
“They will throw,” Martinez said. “After they throw I will meet with them individually and see who’s available and who’s not. We will take it from there. Hopefully, we got enough guys. The good news is we got Patrick Corbin starting for us today, so hopefully he can go deep.”
Corbin starts against the Braves for the second time in six days. Last time out, the Braves spit on his patented slider more often than not, and that caused trouble for the southpaw. Corbin allowed five runs on nine hits with four walks in 5 1/3 innings in the 10-3 setback.
“He mentioned that his last outing too, is that he wants to attack the strike zone and not rely on chase so much,” Martinez said. “When he does that he is really good. He gets to two strikes, it’s hard to lay off his slider. He wants to attack the strike zone early, get ahead early, and then go from there. Also, he talked a lot, too, about using both sides of the plate. He likes to pitch in a lot, but he wants to establish both sides of the plate.”
Martinez was pleased to announced that left fielder Yadiel Hernández is in the starting lineup and batting ninth tonight. This will be Hernández’s first major league start. Martinez said Hernández remained serious and focused when he told him that he was starting tonight.
“He’s not one for showing a lot of emotion,” Martinez said. “But I know he’s excited. I said, ‘Do your thing. You know you are here because I know you can hit, I know you can play. You deserve it, so go out there and have fun and try and help us win a ball game.’”
Last night’s game went on for four hours and 48 minutes because it did go into three extra innings. But it still was on a clip for well over three hours, and very few games have taken less than three hours and 15 minutes this season. Martinez has a few theories about why that is.
“One, the designated hitter, and two, you notice pitchers are throwing a lot of pitches,” Martinez said. “I think it’s a combination of both. I’m looking at our bullpen guys and they come in the game, they are over 20 pitches a lot of times they come out. Starting pitchers have been throwing a lot of pitches. It’s combination of that, and having that DH in the lineup.”