Last week, Anibal Sanchez was brilliant on the mound as he beat the Atlanta Braves who employed him last year and helped resurrect his career. Maybe the 10-day IL stint is what Sanchie needed to get himself righted after some tough starts previously. Today the veteran pitcher needs to keep the team’s positive momentum moving forward. He will face the right-handed Dylan Covey of the White Sox. Both teams head to the airport after this two-game series as the Nationals will go cross-country to San Diego. First things first, the Nationals need to take care of business this afternoon before they depart.
The Nationals “A’ bullpen has stepped up in this division of the eight men in the ‘pen. Clearly it is Matt Grace, Tanner Rainey, Wander Suero and Sean Doolittle in the “A” bullpen, and the rest were all warmed up yesterday and not used except for Tony Sipp who never got up. The other three in the ‘pen are Kyle McGowin, Javy Guerra, and Kyle Barraclough.
Then there is the curious case of what to do with Trevor Rosenthal who has to come off of his rehab by Sunday as he will have met his maximum of 30-days of rehab on the IL. As such, Rosenthal will either need to be activated, DFA’d, traded or put back on the IL for a new injury. Rosenthal continued his rehab with the Senators last night and pitched the sixth inning, allowing a leadoff single but retiring the next three batters including one by strikeout.
“I think our bullpen is starting to pitch and feel a little more comfortable like we expected them to pitch,” Mike Rizzo said on 106.7 The Fan. “Our starters have been asked and taxed and asked to go the extra mile, they have. It’s good to see the other portions of the roster pick [the starters] up like they had to last night.”
Yes, the bullpen is stepping up at a time when the “taxed” starters have shown their wear. This is the fine line that has to be walked because last May there were issues with use and usage among the starters and relievers. When you are winning, you also most trust the proper balance, and Kyle Barraclough has not pitched in a game since May 28th. By the way, the newly acquired Fernando Rodney pitched for Triple-A Fresno last night and went 1.0 inning while striking out two batters of which one reached first base on a swinging strike in the dirt that rolled to the backstop, but retired the fourth batter of the inning on a pop-up.
Over the last 15 1/3 innings, the bullpen has only given up one-run and lowered their ERA from 7.23 to 6.67. The Nationals bullpen has still pitched the fewest innings this season at 179 2/3 compared to the Angels who have pitched the most at 273 1/3 which is almost 100 more innings. Conversely, the Nationals starters have thrown more pitches than any other team. The Nationals bullpen has yielded the 5th most runs in the majors which is a function of the number of innings they have been used. The good news is the bullpen has improved by a half run per game just based on what they have done the last week. Again, balance is the key.
On the lineup today, Brian Dozier will sit on the bench as he waits for the swelling to come down on his right forearm. Dozier was plunked by a fastball last night and exited the game. The x-rays came back clean, and the team could still put him on the 10-day IL after the game as the team is already playing with a 4-man bench.
Chicago White Sox vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 1:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB.TV, MLB Network (out-of-market-only)
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® Sirius 216 XM 183 (Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):