The Washington Nationals have been doing alright without their projected Opening Day closer and without
their center fielder who has only played 27 games this year. They are in first place, a full 4.5 games up on the Atlanta Braves. They’ve had fantastic pitching, and Bryce Harper‘s call-up gave them a spark they needed to keep first place in the National League East. But how good could they be? We may be finding out very soon as Drew Storen and Jayson Werth near their returns.
The Nationals have used a closer-by-committee concept since Storen hit the DL. They may not have intended to, but they were forced to. Brad Lidge struggled and was eventually released. In totals, Washington has five different pitchers with saves this year. Tyler Clippard has taken on the bulk of the closing duties and has 15 saves on the season. While Clippard has been relatively successful, positing a 2.88 ERA, the Nationals are looking forward to Storen’s return.
Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports Storen could be activated as early as today. Storen has played in five rehab games with Single-A Potomac and has posted an even 3.00 ERA. However, he was dominant in his last start and impressive enough for Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson to suggest Storen could be activated as early after today’s game. Storen had 45 saves for the Nats last season and was dominant with a 2.75 ERA.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Jayson Werth is set to make his first rehab start on Friday. He suffered a broken wrist while making a play in the outfield on May 8th. He underwent surgery on the wrist and has been resting and rehabbing since. Yesterday marked the first time Werth was able to return to the batting cage at Nationals Park. He took part in batting practice and performed surprisingly well.
Werth was hitting .276/.372/.439 with 3 home runs when he was placed on the disabled list. He struggled last season, his first after the Nationals signed him to a big free agent contract. But he seemed ready to break out of his prolonged slump this year. At the time of the DL stint, Werth’s OPS+ was 121.
The additions of both Werth and Storen will be a welcome boost in the Nation’s capital. The two of them can serve almost as mid-season trade acquisitions designed to push the Nationals into the postseason – without the Nationals actually having to make a trade.
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