Though circumstances dictated they go with a bullpen game this afternoon in Philadelphia - Austin Voth will start, for those who haven’t heard yet - the Nationals shouldn’t need to take this unconventional route again unless someone else gets hurt.
That’s because Erick Fedde appears ready to return from the COVID-19 injured list after making a five-inning rehab start Saturday for Single-A Wilmington.
Fedde, whose last appearance for the Nationals was a seven-scoreless-inning gem in Arizona three weeks ago, threw 72 pitches in his rehab start, allowing two runs. He reported “normal soreness” the morning after, so club officials are optimistic he’ll be ready to rejoin the big league rotation now.
“He said he felt fine,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame Zoom session with reporters. “He really felt like he got his legs underneath him towards the end there, so that’s a good sign.”
Ideally, Fedde would’ve been able to take Stephen Strasburg’s rotation spot this weekend, but the timing of his throwing schedule and consecutive rainouts in Wilmington pushed back his rehab start to Saturday. That’s why the Nationals have little choice but to throw a bullpen game today.
Fedde, though, should be good to slide into Strasburg’s spot the next time it comes up (next weekend against the Giants). Because the team is off Monday, he could get an extra day of rest before pitching. But for now, it appears he will join a five-man rotation that includes Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester and Joe Ross.
“With the day off, we may push him back six days or seven days,” Martinez said. “We’re going to sit down after today and see where we’re at and then get him in there.”
* Yan Gomes is out of the lineup for the fourth straight day, but the Nationals are hopeful the veteran catcher’s tight hamstring will have improved in time for him to start Tuesday night against the Rays.
“He’s feeling better,” Martinez said. “If we can give him today off, with tomorrow being off, I think he’ll be ready to play on Tuesday.”
Gomes’ injury, which came after he caught five straight days, has now left Alex Avila catching for the fourth straight day. The veteran backup is 2-for-9 with an RBI, two walks and has caught three Phillies trying to steal a base.
“He’s been great,” Martinez said. “I talked to him last night after the game, and he said he feels fine. He said he prepares himself for situations like this. As a backup catcher, he’s had to do it a lot.”