Posted on August 8, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

Washington Nationals Kelvin Herrera

Image via washingtonpost.com

The Washington Nationals are far from being out of contention in the playoff race. But injuries continue to make it difficult for the reigning NL East champs to make significant headway. The latest victim of the injury bug is reliever Kelvin Herrera. The Nationals placed Herrera on the DL Wednesday due to a right rotator cuff impingement. Koda Glover has been called up to take his spot on the roster.

Herrera left the second game of Tuesday’s double-header complaining of shoulder tightness. He underwent an MRI on Wednesday that indicated a problem with Herrera’s rotator cuff. The Nationals have not given a timeline for how long Herrera is expected to be out.

“I couldn’t finish my pitches,” Herrera said through an interpreter after Tuesday’s game. “I felt like I was aiming them instead of throwing them.”

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Herrera was a huge pickup for the Nationals when they acquired him from the Royals in June. Unfortunately for the Nationals, he struggled to replicate the kind of success he had in Kansas City before the trade. In 19 appearances with Washington, Herrera has posted a meager 4.79 ERA. However, he was 3 for 3 in save situations after recently taking on that role for the Nationals. He was also not someone the Nationals could afford to lose from an increasingly thin bullpen.

Regular closer Sean Doolittle has been sidelined for the past month with a foot injury. After suffering a setback recently, the Nationals aren’t expecting to get him back anytime soon. The club has also shipped out Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley in separate trades over the past 10 days. Despite his inconsistency, the Nationals need Herrera now more than ever. Instead, there is uncertainty about when both he and Doolittle will be able to pitch again.

In the meantime, veteran Ryan Madson will take over closer duties for the Nationals. The 37-year old has a modest 4.32 ERA this year. The Nationals also took a flyer recently on Greg Holland. In 32 appearances for the Cardinals this year, Holland posted a disastrous 7.92 ERA. Despite saving over 40 games three times in his career, including last season, the Nationals have no idea what they’re going to get from Holland.

Meanwhile, the Nationals are still trying to piece together their starting rotation. Stephen Strasburg remains on the DL amidst another injury-plagued season. Also, both Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark have seen their performance plummet from a season ago.

The Nationals need a reliable bullpen right now, but they simply don’t have the depth back there. Without much clarity on the injuries to Doolittle and now Herrera, the Nationals may need to explore a waiver trade for a relief pitcher. Without reinforcements in their bullpen, the Nationals will find it hard to string wins together.

If there’s a silver lining for the Nationals is that’s they began Wednesday six games back in the NL East and 4.5 games out of a wild-card spot. There is more than enough time to make up those deficits. However, with every day that passes and every injury that piles up, Washington’s odds of reaching the postseason grow ever longer.

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