The Nationals announced today they have placed reliever Sean Doolittle on the 10-day injured list with right knee tendinitis. Righty Kyle McGowin is up from Double-A Harrisburg to take Doolittle’s active roster spot.
We just heard Washington was considering cutting Doolittle’s workload back in recognition of his recent downturn in performance. Doolittle and manager Dave Martinez attributed his recent struggles to a heavy workload, but evidently there’s more than mere fatigue at play.
As we covered more fully this morning, Doolittle’s results and stuff have both gone backwards in recent weeks. This will mark the sixth consecutive season in which the 32 year-old hits the IL. It’s not immediately clear where the Nationals will turn in late-game situations, but Daniel Hudson and Hunter Strickland each have closing experience. As Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post points on (on Twitter), perhaps this opens the door for veteran Greg Holland, who signed a minor-league deal with the D.C. organization after being cut loose by the Diamondbacks. Holland had a strong end to the 2018 season with the Nats after an abysmal start in St. Louis. Any Holland promotion would require a 40-man roster move.
Immediately, though, it’ll be McGowin coming up. A starter throughout his time in the minors, the 27 year-old has been used in relief in eight of his ten MLB appearances with Washington. A former fifth-rounder of the Angels, McGowin’s a sinker-slider arm, the type who typically ends up in relief, but he’s been quite good in 15 minor-league starts in 2019 split between Harrisburg and Triple-A Fresno.
For Doolittle, this seems to all but ensure he’ll be back in Washington in 2020. Doolittle’s contract comes equipped with a $6.5 million club option which turns into a mutual option if he records the final out of 16 more games this season. Even considering his abysmal August, he surely would have topped that minuscule sum on the open market, so the ability to elect free agency would’ve greatly impacted his 2020 earning power and potential destination. While there’s no timetable for his return, it’s almost impossible to imagine he’ll close out 16 games from August 27, when he’d be eligible for activation if everything goes perfectly, through the end of the season.