Nearly two months into the 2015 season, it looks like the Washington Nationals will finally have the bullpen they envisioned during Spring Training when they open up a three-game series against the Phillies tonight at Nationals Park.
According to a team press release this afternoon, the Nationals have activated right-handed reliever Casey Janssen from the 15-day disabled list. In a corresponding move, the team placed reliever Sammy Solis on the 15-day disabled list.
Janssen, 33, has spent the entire 2015 season on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder. He recently completed a rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, in which he gave up two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings of work while holding opposing hitters to a .182 batting average.
The Nationals signed Janssen as a free agent during the offseason in hopes that his late inning experience could help him replace former Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, whom the team traded to Oakland. Had Janssen not been placed on the disabled list, he most likely would have started the season as the team’s eighth-inning setup man, which was Clippard’s old job.
Without Janssen, the eighth inning has been a bit of a disaster for the Nationals as youngsters like Blake Treinen have struggles to get the job done in the high-pressure role. Now that Janssen is rejoining the bullpen, however, manager Matt Williams and the Nationals have a reliable option for the eighth inning to help get the game to closer Drew Storen.
Throughout his eight-year big league career, Janssen has pitched 493 innings and recorded 90 saves. The right-hander pitched well as the Blue Jays’ eight inning setup man last season, going 3-3 with a 3.94 ERA over 45 2/3 innings pitched.
While the addition of Janssen is certainly good news for the Nationals, the fact that Solis is headed to the disabled list is very concerning. Solis, who has had problems staying healthy throughout his career, has inflammation in his left shoulder.
Solis has pitched well since joining the big league club April 30, going 1-0 while allowing five earned runs in five games (four of his earned runs came in one outing). The left-hander is considered to be one of the team’s most promising pitching prospects, but injuries have been a major issue throughout his career. Solis already has a history of arm problems and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012.
It remains to be seen how long Solis will be out. One thing’s for certain, the team has finally gained some stability in the back of the bullpen with Janssen set to make his Nationals debut.