The Nationals placed Will Harris on the 10-day injured list this morning with a right groin strain, an injury that cropped up in recent days and kept the veteran reliever from pitching in what seemed like an obvious situation for him during Thursday’s win over the Blue Jays.
The transaction is retroactive to July 29, making Harris eligible to return Aug. 8 at the earliest.
Harris appeared in only two of the Nationals’ first seven games this season, and looked shaky in each. He made his debut Sunday against the Yankees, tasked with protecting a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh, but quickly gave up a home run to Luke Voit and was charged with a blown save.
Harris pitched again two nights later against the Blue Jays and retired only two of five batters faced, surrendering two runs that were unearned because of a throwing error by second baseman Starlin Castro.
When the Nationals entered the eighth inning Thursday up three runs, manager Davey Martinez’s logical bullpen choices to close out the game were Harris and Sean Doolittle. But neither pitched, with Martinez instead using Tanner Rainey for the fifth time in six days and Daniel Hudson one day after the veteran closer threw 1 2/3 innings.
Martinez revealed after the game that Harris had “a little bit of a groin thing going on that we’re trying to take care of.” The club hoped this weekend’s postponed series with the Marlins would give the 35-year-old a chance to heal and be ready to return Tuesday against the Mets, but now he’ll be sidelined at least all of next week.
(Doolittle didn’t pitch Thursday because he’s working on fixing mechanical glitches. He could be seen throwing in the bullpen after the game ended.)
The Nationals invested heavily in Harris over the winter, signing the veteran right-hander to a three-year, $24 million contract. One of the most consistent relievers in baseball over the last five seasons, he had a 2.36 ERA and 0.987 WHIP in 309 appearances for the Astros, then did not surrender a run in his first 10 postseason outings last October before surrendering home runs to Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick in Games 6 and 7 of the World Series.
This is already the second injury Harris has dealt with since joining the Nationals. He never pitched in a Grapefruit League game during spring training due to a left abdominal strain, but he was close to debuting when camps were shut down March 12 due to the coronavirus.