Some quick-hit news and notes before the Nationals take the field in Miami for the start of today’s doubleheader against the Marlins ...
* Yan Gomes is behind the plate for the opener, a bit of a surprise because Max Scherzer is on the mound. Scherzer typically pairs up with Kurt Suzuki; in fact, Suzuki caught all 10 of his previous starts this season.
“Just wanted to change it up,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame Zoom session with reporters. “I talked to Max and Yan before Max’s last outing. It’s all good. We’ve got a doubleheader today, so I’m going to let Gomes catch the first one, Suzuki catch the second one.”
There could be a little more to it than that, though. Suzuki is set to become a free agent this winter, and the Nationals may choose not to re-sign the soon-to-be 37-year-old. Gomes, meanwhile, is already under contract through 2021.
So perhaps Martinez wants to see how the Scherzer-Gomes battery works together before heading into an offseason of many significant decisions.
“Well, he caught him in Game 7 of the World Series, so they work pretty good together,” Martinez countered. “I talked to Max about it. He was for it. I talked to Yan about it and he wanted to do it. I talked to Suzuki about it and he was good with it.”
* Howie Kendrick has been traveling with the team on this final road trip as a member of the taxi squad and has been making progress in his rehab from a strained hamstring. Martinez said the veteran infielder has been running at 60 percent speed, so perhaps there’s a chance Kendrick could actually return to play a few games before the season ends one week from today.
“We’re going to be careful with him,” Martinez said. “He’s had these hamstring issues before. We’ve talked about this: We don’t want him to blow out now. But we told him as soon as (he’s) ready and we deem that (he) can play, we’ll activate him and see if we can get him back this week.”
* Yadiel Hernández was designated the 29th man for today’s doubleheader and is available to appear in both games. The rookie outfielder was optioned to the alternate training site in Fredericksburg on Friday, having gone 0-for-7 with four strikeouts to begin his major league career. Perhaps he’ll get another chance to notch his first hit before day’s end.
* The Nationals’ rotation plan for their upcoming home series with the Phillies includes Aníbal Sánchez starting Monday night’s opener, then Austin Voth starting the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. The nightcap starter has not been named yet, and the club may have no choice but to go with another bullpen game to wrap up its third doubleheader in five days. Erick Fedde will start Wednesday’s series finale.