PHILADELPHIA -- Kelvin Herrera limped out the door from the Nationals' clubhouse on Monday afternoon, wearing a walking boot on his left foot and using crutches to meet the Uber driver waiting for him. The Nats placed him on the DL with a torn Lisfranc ligament in that left foot,
PHILADELPHIA -- Kelvin Herrera limped out the door from the Nationals' clubhouse on Monday afternoon, wearing a walking boot on his left foot and using crutches to meet the Uber driver waiting for him. The Nats placed him on the DL with a torn Lisfranc ligament in that left foot, and although Herrera will seek a second opinion, the injury seems almost certain to end his season.
"It's awful," manager Dave Martinez said. "I feel terrible, because he's a big part of our success here and what we do."
If Herrera, who will be a free agent at season's end, does indeed miss the rest of the season, the injury ends what has been a rocky tenure in D.C. since the Nats acquired him from Kansas City in June. The Nationals jumped the trade market to acquire Herrera early, with the intent of creating perhaps the most formidable bullpen in team history. Their plans quickly went awry as Herrera battled injuries and ineffectiveness.
In 21 games with the Nats, Herrera posted a 4.34 ERA and a 1.714 WHIP, a dip in his performance from this strong start to the year with the Royals (1.05 ERA and 0.818 WHIP). He had just returned from a two-week stay on the DL with a right rotator cuff impingement and was pitching the ninth inning of Sunday's blowout 15-0 win to stay fresh after not pitching in five days. The injury occurred while Herrera was making a play at first base.
"I still got the out," Herrera said with a chuckle. "High price for it."
The Nationals did not provide a timetable for Herrera's recovery, so it is unclear if the injury will affect his status as a free agent this offseason. Herrera, who will be 29 in December, has been an elite reliever and was a two-time All-Star for the Royals through his eight-year career. But his strikeout rates dipped this season and walk rates climbed after being traded to Washington, a concerning trend for a reliever who battled injuries all year.
Martinez did attempt to console Herrera by pointing out that at least he did not suffer an arm injury.
"He's a free agent, so I know he's concerned about that," Martinez said. "I told him, 'Look at it this way: it's not your arm, it's your foot. As soon as you get it taken care of you'll be pitching again and you'll be strong and good to go.'"
Madson activated from DL
The Nats did benefit from some good timing with right-hander Ryan Madson ready to be activated from the DL on Monday to fill Herrera's spot on the roster. Madson had been on the DL on Aug. 14 (retroactive to Aug. 13) with a lumbar nerve root irritation.
That injury to Madson's back led to an ugly outing on Aug. 12 at Wrigley Field when Madson surrendered a pinch-hit, walk-off, grand slam to David Bote in a 4-3 loss. He was placed on the DL shortly after and spent some time last week in Arizona working out with his personal trainer to help fix his back issues.
Madson was encouraged prior to Monday's game the issue was behind him. The Nats have a hole at closer with Sean Doolittle still on the DL and Herrera's injury, but Martinez hinted he could use Madson in lower leverage situations before he resumes closing duties.
"If the matchups are right, I can see Madson throwing the ninth inning, but we'll see," Martinez said. "I kind of want to ease his way back into this whole deal instead of throwing him back into the fire. But we'll see how the game goes."
• Joe Ross has made four Minor League rehab starts as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery and he is on track for a return in early September. Ross owns a 1.84 ERA in 14 2/3 innings in the Minors and has increased his pitch count to approximately 65-70 pitches. Whether he returns as a starter or reliever will depend on the Nats' needs at the time, Martinez said.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.