The Nationals have emerged from the break with two difficult pieces of injury news. Righty Joe Ross was placed on the 10-day DL, the club announced. Meanwhile, manager Dusty Baker said that outfielder Jayson Werth has not advanced as rapidly as had been hoped, as Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweets.
Ross was pulled from his most recent start after showing worrying velocity readings and command problems. While the DL placement isn’t a major red flag in and of itself, the accompanying details aren’t terribly encouraging.
For one thing, the team announced the injury as an elbow sprain; previously, it had been labeled triceps discomfort. For another, Baker hinted at significant concern, as Castillo also tweeted. “We’re preparing for it to be a longer situation,” he said while indicating that the club is awaiting the results of an MRI.
While the Nationals have some options to take innings while Ross is out — A.J. Cole, Jacob Turner, Austin Voth, and even old favorite Edwin Jackson — none seem like particularly exciting replacements if there’s an extended absence. The Nats likely won’t feel the need to add another starter to a prospective postseason rotation, and have a comfortable division lead, but could now look to add another starter at the deadline — particularly if that player would profile as a relief arm in the playoffs.
As for Werth, it doesn’t seem there has been a drastic change. But his toe injury hasn’t progressed as quickly as the team anticipated, leading Baker to suggest there’s still some healing to do before Werth will be ready for a rehab stint. For an older player with such a lengthy injury history, there’s perhaps a bit of added concern here.
It’s not clear whether Werth’s status will really change the club’s deadline plans, but there’s an argument to be made that it should. While the Nats have enjoyed stronger-than-expected performances from Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin, the former is on the DL himself, and those two are perhaps best deployed as a platoon in center. (After all, the team is already covering for the loss of Adam Eaton, and it’s reasonable to anticipate some regression from those two homegrown assets.) Though veteran righty bats Chris Heisey and Ryan Raburn are still on hand as well, there’s some room for an addition to the outfield (or, perhaps, a utility type that could also help make up for the absence of shortstop Trea Turner).
Ultimately, there are quite a few more moving parts to the Nationals’ deadline than had been expected. While the club can reasonably assume that some of its injury woes will resolve over the coming weeks, the additional problems revealed today seem to boost the uncertainty.
With Ross heading to the DL and lefty Sammy Solis destined for an optional assignment to Triple-A, where he’ll try to solve his problems since returning from a lengthy DL stint, the Nats have promoted two new relief arms. Righties Austin Adams and Trevor Gott — both acquired in deals from the Angels over the past two years — will become the latest hurlers to attempt to aid the beleaguered unit.