Washington Nationals: Madson, Kelley swap places on the DL

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In order for Shawn Kelley to return, the Washington Nationals placed Ryan Madson on the disabled list. He hopes to return next week. Really.

Another day, another injury for the Washington Nationals.

The Nats placed Ryan Madson on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to last Sunday, with a right index finger sprain. He expects to return next week. The move allows Washington to recall fellow reliever Shawn Kelley.

Madson is an instant hit with fans. Traded to the Nats along with Sean Doolittle from the Oakland Athletics, the pair immediately stabilized a shaky bullpen. Used as the eighth-inning setup man, Madson’s ability to hit 100-mph on the radar gun thrilled you from his first game.

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Over nine appearances, Madson has yet to allow a run. He has scattered five hits and a walk while striking out 13. Matched with Doolittle and Brandon Kintzler, who Washington nabbed at the trade deadline, the trio are called “The Law Firm.”

To go along with his perfect ERA, Madson has two wins.

The move was primarily a paper one. Kelley, who strained his right trapezius, has not pitched for the Nats since June 16. What role he carries now is uncertain.

This has not been a good year for the veteran Kelley. Several nagging injuries have made this a season to forget. In 22 games, he has an ERA of 7.00 allowing a whopping nine home runs in 18 innings.

His rehab numbers with Triple-A Syracuse do not give comfort. In eight games with the Chiefs, Kelley went 1-1 with an 8.10 ERA. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowed eight hits, six earned runs and walked three. The homer problem plaguing him earlier did not go away as two balls left the yard. He whiffed nine.

Once considered a possible closer before the season started, Kelley still carries an important role as the Nats prepare for the playoffs. Chances are he will be paired with Joe Blanton in games where Washington trails until October, allowing the big three relievers rest.

Once the postseason starts, Kelley will need to keep the Nats in games. Whether he comes in early after a poor start or pitches in a crucial extra inning to give Washington a chance to win, he has six weeks to sort through his issues.

For Madson, nothing wrong with rest during the season. He sprained his finger warming in the bullpen. First thought as a blister problem, he should return for the end of the road trip in Houston.

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His October performance is valuable in how far the Nats go. If Washington wins a World Series, Madson is a key reason. Hopefully, Kelley is too.

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