The injury bug has hit the Washington Nationals early this season. As of June 12, 11 players are on the disabled list. Of those 11 players, six of them are pitchers. Jeremy Hellickson, Stephen Strasburg, and Brandon Kintzler are the latest additions to the DL and further deplete Washington’s depth. Let’s look at each of them and see when the Nationals could expect their return.
Earlier in June, Jeremy Hellickson left the final game in a series against the Atlanta Braves after only facing two batters. Hellickson went for an MRI a day later and tests revealed he had a hamstring injury. Hellickson is 2-0 in his nine starts with the Nationals sporting a 2.28 ERA. Hellickson also has 34 strikeouts in 43.1 innings pitched. There haven’t been any updates on the injury since Hellickson went to the DL, but he should be reevaluated soon. Hellickson is the first starting pitcher to go down for the Nationals this season and unfortunately, he isn’t alone.
Just days after Hellickson went to the DL, Stephen Strasburg left last Friday’s game against the San Francisco Giants with right shoulder inflammation. Strasburg is on the 10-day DL but there’s no timetable for his return. Strasburg is 6-6 this season with a 3.46 ERA and 95 strikeouts. Strasburg has a long history of injuries dating back to his first season with the Nationals. In 2017, Strasburg spent almost a month on the DL with a nerve impingement in his right elbow. For Washington’s sake, let’s hope the injury won’t sideline him for long. Strasburg is invaluable to Washington and the team fares better with him in the rotation. He has is ups and downs but when he’s on, he’s one of the best in baseball. Hopefully, we’ll get more information about this injury in the coming days.
On Saturday, the day after Strasburg went down, reliever Brandon Kintzler left the game with tightness in his right forearm. The MRI revealed Kintzler had a flexor strain and was sent to the 10-day DL. Kintzler has been a welcome addition to Washington’s bullpen since he was acquired near the trade deadline last season. Kintzler has two saves and 13 holds on the season with a 4.45 ERA. The Nationals will want Kintzler back to bolster the bullpen but his return won’t be rushed. Ryan Madson, Shawn Kelley, and closer Sean Doolittle are still healthy and can hold their own in the meantime. The Washington Nationals are no strangers to playing shorthanded and embody the “next man up” mentality.
Despite their injuries, the Nationals share first place in the National League East with the Atlanta Braves. Players are getting healthier too. Adam Eaton and Brian Goodwin came back this month after their stints on the DL. Injuries will happen over the course of a long season and all teams must deal with the consequences. Luckily, these injuries are happening early in the season and not in the heat of the playoff race. Hellickson, Strasburg, and Kintzler will return at some point this season. Until then, the rest of the team will elevate their game to compensate.
It stings knowing two starting pitchers and a reliever all went to the DL within a week of each other, but the Washington Nationals will keep surging in their absence.
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