Washington Nationals: Sean Doolittle ready to ramp up his recovery

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: Sean Doolittle #62 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the ninth inning for his fifteen during a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park on June 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: Sean Doolittle #62 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the ninth inning for his fifteen during a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park on June 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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After a positive win on the field for the Washington Nationals on the field, they got good news regarding Sean Doolittle off of it.

Sean Doolittle has been sorely missed by the Washington Nationals while out with stress reaction in his toe. Fill-in closer Kelvin Herrera struggled, and then went down himself, leaving Ryan Madson the interim closer.

Doolittle had pitched to the tune of a 1.45 ERA and recorded 22 saves before being put on the disabled list on July 10th. But now the team hopes to have him back fairly soon.

It was reported yesterday, by Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports, that Doolittle is ready to throw off a mound. While he has done this in his rehab, this will be the first time he does so without a boot.

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While Zuckerman says he won’t throw at full velocity, assuming all goes well, that should follow shortly. It’s a big step, given the injured toe is on his left foot, needed to push off the rubber.

When can we expect Doolittle back?

If the left-hander’s initial mound throwing goes well, then he should be able to throw a bullpen a few days later. Then he’d need two or three bullpen sessions before a quick rehab assignment.

Thankfully, with relievers, once they’re throwing at full tilt, things can move quickly. If he can throw a full bullpen session in St Louis, that might put him on course to return in time for the six-game road trip that starts August 24th.

However, given that it’s not an arm or shoulder injury, they could opt to skip the minor league rehab games. Doolittle has been keeping his arm loose by throwing with the protective boot, so when his toe is healed, he could go right back to the big league bullpen.

That would be key with a looming series with the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies on August 21st. With such a huge series, they may need the All-Star closer if he’s healthy enough.

While fill-in closer Madson has improved of late, he’s been prone to having the wheels fall off at times this season. So getting Doolittle back makes the ninth inning of close games near automatic. A luxury Nats fans may have taken for granted at times.

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There’s no doubt the Washington Nationals need Sean Doolittle if they want to overturn the deficit in the NL East. Here’s hoping we see him back in the near future.

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