Saturday: The streaking Nationals, at 8-2 over their last ten games, are doing seemingly everything needed to retain their claim on the premier Wild Card spot in the National League. Now comes word that Sunday will see the club welcoming back two veteran reinforcements to the active roster, as Byron Kerr of MASN reports that reliever Sean Doolittle and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman are both expected to return to Dave Martinez’s dugout in time for tomorrow’s game against the Marlins (link).
Though adding two grizzled vets to a contending roster can always pay intangible dividends, it will be hard for D.C. to know what to expect in terms of on-field contributions from these two players. Doolittle, for his part, was placed on the injured list on August 18th with a knee injury that was suddenly brought to light after a string of rough appearances in the closing spotlight. Over his last ten appearances before being injured, Doolittle allowed seven home runs–a factor that played a large role in doubling his ERA from 2.72 to 4.33. Still, Martinez has made it clear that Doolittle will resume closing duties for the club upon activation.
Zimmerman, at 34, is far removed from his heyday as a 6 WAR player at the end of the last decade. Though he provided above-average offensive contributions in 2017 (137 wRC+) and 2018 (118 wRC+), this season has been truncated by injuries and defined by sub-par output at the plate. Across 132 at-bats in 2019, Zimmerman is slashing .246/.311/.390 (79 wRC+). He has been out since July 21st with a lingering foot issue.