WASHINGTON -- The Nationals’ pitching staff has sustained another injury, this time to one of its top prospects. Left-hander Seth Romero, the club’s No. 11 prospect per MLB Pipeline, broke his right hand on Saturday evening. He was placed on the 10-day IL on Monday.
Washington recalled southpaw Ben Braymer, the organization’s No. 24 prospect, in a corresponding move to be the sole left-hander in the bullpen.
“He slipped on the steps and -- not to put his pitching hand down to brace himself -- he decided just to put his right hand down, and came in the next day [Sunday] with his hand completely swollen,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He didn’t really think much of it, but it was broken.
“We decided just to put him on the IL. I still haven’t heard what’s going to happen. We’ll talk to the doctors, but he does have a broken right hand. That’s his glove hand, which is not great news, but it’s better news than his pitching hand.”
Romero, the Nats’ 2017 first-round MLB Draft pick, made his Major League debut on Aug. 13 following a two-year layoff while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He has appeared in three games this season, accumulating a 13.50 ERA with five strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. Romero, 24, pitched in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Marlins prior to the injury. He underwent X-rays when he arrived at Nationals Park on Sunday.
“It’s unfortunate,” Martinez said. “I feel bad for the kid because he worked diligently to get here, and he’s still young. He’s a big part of our future.”
Romero will rehab at the alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va. The Nationals hope to keep him engaged in baseball activities as much as his recovery allows.
“If he can throw down there, then we’re going to have him keep throwing and keep doing his running program,” Martinez said. “Everything he needs to do to keep his arm ready to go, so that when he’s able to put his glove on and able to squeeze his glove and we deem him ready, that he possibly could play as soon as possible.”
The Nationals chose Braymer, 26, in the 18th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He has been starting at the alternate training site, where the team has been impressed by his outings. Braymer has been stretched out to five innings, and he could be utilized as a long man out of Washington’s bullpen at the Major League level. Erick Fedde, who was an option for that role, recently moved into the starting rotation to fill the spot of Stephen Strasburg, who will undergo season-ending surgery on Wednesday to alleviate carpal tunnel neuritis in his right hand.
Braymer’s first appearance with the Nationals will be his big league debut.
“I like his stuff,” Martinez said. “He’s got a good fastball. He can sink it, he can cut it. He’s got a good slider and a good changeup. He’s going to come up here and get an opportunity to pitch. We need everybody in that bullpen, so I’m looking forward to watching him pitch here.”
Washington’s pool of pitchers has been hampered all season. Along with Strasburg missing the remainder of the season, left-handers Sean Doolittle (10-day IL, right knee fatigue), Sam Freeman (60-day IL, left flexor mass strain) and Roenis Elías (60-day IL, left elbow flexor strain) have been dealing with injuries, as well.
“I’m looking for the end when everybody tells me, ‘Everybody’s healthy, everybody’s good, let’s go,’” Martinez said. “But I guess it’s part of the game.”