To fill the squad, the Nationals called back the reliever Ryne Harper (for Suero) and chose the contract for right-hander Paolo Espino (who started for Strasburg with a 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks).

“It’s been a crazy start to the year from the start,” said manager Dave Martinez on Sunday as he talked about the injuries. “… It’s unfortunate, but we have to keep going.”

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Strasbourg’s IL stay is retroactive to Thursday, which means he could not return until the end of this week at the earliest. Martinez said there is currently “no schedule” for the 32-year-old. Strasburg had a four-inning bout against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. During that game, after allowing two home runs in one inning, a televised recording showed him rubbing his right shoulder and neck. His speed ranged between the high-80s and low-90s in miles per hour.

After Tuesday’s game, he and Martinez insisted that nothing was physically wrong. Instead, they focused their frustration on the fact that the camera was able to capture Strasbourg in the tunnel behind the clubhouse. When asked how his shoulder felt, Strasburg told reporters, “Whatever you are, that is your calling.”

On Wednesday Strasburg played catch in the outfield at the Busch Stadium. It was part of his usual routine. Then, Martinez explained, Strasburg felt uncomfortable with his shoulder between starts after his bullpen session. This week he underwent an MRI scan which, according to Martinez, found “some inflammation”.

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Strasburg missed most of 2020 after undergoing carpal tunnel surgery in his right hand. His career has been full of stops and starts like this one, including several IL trips for his shoulder. Prior to last season, he signed a seven-year contract for $ 245 million. He threw 10 innings this month, including a great season debut against the Atlanta Braves, before closing.

“I didn’t think it would be this early,” Martinez said of addressing health problems with Strasbourg. “Hopefully we’ll nip it in the bud as soon as possible and get him back as soon as possible. We have a whole year ahead of us. This is just the beginning. We have enough time. We just want to make sure we get it right because you know what it means to this ball club. “

With Strasburg in the rotation, the Nationals will continue to rely on Erick Fedde to fill a seat. Additionally, they hope that Jon Lester, their expected fourth starter, can be activated by the coronavirus-related IL soon. Lester was cleared for pitching, throwing 49 pitches in a simulated game on Thursday at the club’s alternate location in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Once activated, the Nationals could fill their staff with Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Joe Ross, Lester and Fedde until Strasbourg returns.

The Nationals contacted former starter Aníbal Sánchez this month, according to two people who are aware of the situation. It could be an option if they decide to replenish their rotation with a jug outside the organization. Meanwhile, Espino, 34, logged 4 log innings against the Diamondbacks, allowing two runs with five hits with a walk and three strikeouts. It was his second start since 2017.

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“Right now I’m taking care of the seconds and trying to get through today’s game,” Martinez said when asked if the Nationals need to add a free agent arm. “After the game, [General Manager] Mike [Rizzo] And I’ll hit heads again and start figuring things out. “

And then there’s the Nationals’ thinning bullpen. Suero left the ninth inning of Saturday’s win after suffering from pain in his left side. It was his eighth appearance in the first 12 games – and the fourth of the week – because the bullpen was stretched from spotty starting pitching. 29-year-old Suero has often weighed heavily on Washington. He had also been keen through 6⅓ innings by 2021.

In Suero’s absence, the Nationals must cobble together the middle innings. Martinez announced Saturday that Luis Avilán has torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and is considering surgery on Tommy John. Like Suero, Avilán was used regularly and at very high pitches this week to cover for Strasbourg and Corbin. And Will Harris is also paused while recovering from an infection in his right hand. He threw a bullpen session on Sunday and Martinez said he looked “okay”.

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“It’s funny how these slants are; You just never know, ”Martinez said of Suero, adding that the helper was breathing well. “So we just have to make sure he’s perfectly healthy.”

The Nationals now hobble through 13 games in 13 days. The current bullpen is closer to Brad Hand, Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey, Kyle Finnegan, Kyle McGowin, Sam Clay, Austin Voth, and Harper. The current rotation is down two arms. Neither is ideal. Neither is really close to what the Nationals would be hoping for in mid-April. But it is the situation they are in.