ST. LOUIS -- The Nationals' bullpen has received a lot of attention this season, but not for the reasons the team would like. They will hope to turn things around, however, with the return of a familiar face. On Saturday, Sammy Solis was removed from the 10-day disabled list and
ST. LOUIS -- The Nationals' bullpen has received a lot of attention this season, but not for the reasons the team would like. They will hope to turn things around, however, with the return of a familiar face. On Saturday, Sammy Solis was removed from the 10-day disabled list and rejoined a bullpen that has been largely ineffective in the 65 games he missed.
Solis had been disabled since April 19 due to nerve inflammation in his left elbow. It is the same elbow on which he had Tommy John surgery performed in 2012. He has been ready to come back for about a week, but the team was waiting for the right opportunity.
"Going into it, I thought this might be a two-week thing. But it took six weeks for my hand to stop buzzing, and then we could start rehab after that," Solis said. "So it was a lot longer than I thought it would be. But now I feel a lot stronger, ready to go."
Solis worked one inning in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Cardinals, allowing two hits -- including a solo HR that ended up being the deciding run -- with one strikeout.
To make space for the left-hander on the roster, the Nationals designated Jacob Turner for assignment. The right-hander pitched 3 2/3 innings in Friday night's game, giving up seven hits and five runs. The runs and 77 pitches he threw were both his career highs for a relief appearance. He has a 6.75 ERA over his last 10 appearances, covering 17 1/3 innings.
The Nationals hope that Turner can stay in the organization and potentially go back to being a starting pitcher, which he spent time doing from 2013-14 with a variety of clubs.
"We're hoping for his sake that he gets claimed and can be somewhere in the big leagues. But, selfishly, for our sake, we want him to go back and start," manager Dusty Baker said. "We're short starters in this organization, and you can never have too many, because he had more success starting than he did relieving."
The move also shows the Nationals' confidence in left-handed reliever Matt Grace, who is with the team after being called back up on June 15 following a demotion. Grace entered Saturday having allowed nine hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings of relief since returning.
Solis rejoined the second-worst bullpen in MLB, only better than Detroit's, entering play Saturday with a 5.07 ERA. The group has been responsible for a significant portion of the recent problems the team has faced. Entering Saturday, the Nationals had lost four of their last six games, with the bullpen posting a 6.38 ERA over that span.
Solis had his own problems in Triple-A Syracuse, giving up six earned runs off seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings over seven appearances.
"Triple-A was a grind, for sure. I had to restart my entire throwing program, so I had to go through Spring Training all over again, which is really what took so long," Solis said. "Having to do that again, getting comfortable on the mound and finding not only velocity but feel and touch, and finding that crispness again, was a grind. I think I'm there, and I'm feeling good and ready to go this series."
Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis and covered the Nationals on Saturday.