MAY 20: Fedde tested positive for COVID-19, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post was among those to report. He had previously been vaccinated and is asymptomatic. Rainey, who has not been vaccinated, is isolating as a close contact.
MAY 19: The Nationals announced they’ve placed right-handers Erick Fedde and Tanner Rainey on the injured list. One of the two players has tested positive for COVID-19, while the other was deemed a close contact, tweets Maria Torres of the Athletic. To replace Fedde and Rainey on the active roster, Washington recalled righties Paolo Espino and Kyle McGowin from Triple-A Rochester.
Fedde has been a reliable member of the Nats rotation over the season’s first month-plus. He’s made eight starts and tossed 39 1/3 innings with a 4.35 ERA/4.58 SIERA. With Stephen Strasburg on a rehab assignment and nearing a return from the injured list, manager Dave Martinez recently suggested Fedde was a candidate for a short-term move to the bullpen (via Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post). For the time being, though, he’ll be out of action.
The Nationals will also be without one of their more frequently utilized relievers. The hard-throwing Rainey looked to have cemented himself as a key setup piece in Martinez’s bullpen last season, tossing 20 1/3 innings of 2.66 ERA ball with an elite 42.7% strikeout rate. It’s been a disastrous start in 2021 for Rainey, however. He missed time in Spring Training because of a muscle strain near his collarbone. That didn’t require a regular season IL stint, although it’s possible the delay affected his performance. Rainey has lost a tick on his average fastball and struggled over his first 16 appearances. The 28-year-old has seen his once-lofty strikeout rate plummet to 24.6%, while his walk percentage has spiked to an untenable 19.7%. Given those poor peripherals, it’s unsurprising Rainey has allowed eleven runs (ten earned) over his first 12 1/3 frames.
Espino, 34, has made eight appearances (including a spot start when Strasburg first went on the IL). He’s managed a 2.57 ERA/4.78 SIERA in 14 innings. McGowin has scuffled, allowing four runs in 7 1/3 frames with five walks and four strikeouts.