The Nationals have placed righty Shawn Kelley on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain. Kelley has been out with illness, but his “back flared up” while he was warming up to see if he felt well enough to pitch tonight, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com explains. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by southpaw Matt Grace.
While it seems reasonable to hope that Kelley wont be out for too long, the news means the team will be without its de facto closer for at least another week. The DL placement was backdated to May 2. Of course, now that the move has been made, the Nats will no doubt make sure he’s not activated until fully healed.
The Nats’ closing situation is as questionable as ever. While Kelley has been unusually homer prone through his ten innings, he has looked himself in the K/BB department (13:3) and is probably the team’s best option. But it has never been the organization’s preference to utilize him in that capacity.
Youngster Koda Glover is nearing his own return from the DL, and may be the favorite to take over the ninth when he’s back. Until he’s activated, the club could be forced to turn over their ninth-inning leads to Enny Romero, Matt Albers, or one of the team’s two struggling relievers (Blake Treinen and Joe Blanton) who had been expected to handle high-leverage work.
It’s arguable that the injury could increase the pressure on the Nats front office to strike an earlier-than-usual deal for a replacement. With the team playing well anyway, though, paying a major premium to get a closer now still seems unlikely. At some point, though, Washington figures to boost its late-inning mix via trade.