The Nationals are battered, beaten and bruised. Injuries are a clear reason why Washington is 28-29 and was 61⁄2 games out of first place in the NL East on Monday, with pitcher Stephen Strasburg the latest player to go down. The Nats’ young right-hander left Friday’s game with a right lat strain and is listed as day-to-day. Outfielder Bryce Harper is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore knee, telling reporters in Atlanta on Sunday, “it’s still swollen and crappy.” Pitchers Ross Detwiler (oblique) and Ryan Mattheus (fractured hand) and catcher Wilson Ramos (hamstring) also are on the DL, and second baseman Danny Espinosa (wrist) has been dealing with his own pain on a day-to-day basis. However, right fielder Jayson Werth is expected back today after playing in just one game in May because of a hamstring injury. With Washington banged up, here’s a look at how some of these key injuries will affect the club in the coming days.
Injury: Left knee bursitis
Out until at least June 11
Outlook: Though Harper’s knee is the team’s main concern, the outfielder has already suffered several injuries this year. He continues to rest on the 15-day DL, but his knee may be an issue for the remainder of the season. With Werth expected back today, the attention turns to who will spend time in left field. Roger Bernadina is the best defensive outfielder off the bench; Steve Lombardozzi provides a more consistent bat; and Tyler Moore adds power to the lineup, which is what Washington misses with Harper sidelined. However, all three have offered little at the plate in any capacity, combining for a .186 batting average.
Injury: Right lat
Outlook: Strasburg’s hoping to avoid a stint on the DL and is currently day-to-day with a right lat strain. Despite his 3-5 record, Strasburg has a 2.54 ERA and has pitched well in the majority of his outings. This isn’t Strasburg’s first injury this season, either. Previously, he dealt with pain in his forearm in late April. Concerns will naturally arise when dealing with a player of Strasburg’s caliber, especially since he had Tommy John surgery in 2010. The right-hander pitched through the forearm pain and may try to manage his current injury without missing a start, although that seems like an unrealistic expectation.
Injury: Right hamstring
Outlook: Werth’s last game was on May 2, a 3-2 win against the Braves. The hamstring issue has lingered, but he’s wrapping up a minor league rehabilitation stint with Single-A Potomac, where he batted .556 and hit two home runs in six games. With Werth on the DL, the Nationals were forced to move Bryce Harper to right field and sub in a bevy of outfielders in left. With both Werth and Harper out, the team has struggled on offense and defense. The Nats have gone 15-15 since the start of May, and they have the third-most errors in the baseball this season. Werth’s return should also help boost a Washington team that ranks last in the majors in on-base percentage (.287).