Sammy Solis had to watch the Nationals celebrate clinching the National League East crown in Pittsburgh on Saturday from a thousand miles away. He was in Florida.
“That was tough to watch on TV, having been a part of it for most of the season,” Solis said. “But hopefully we get to do it three more times. Let’s hope so.”
Solis was in Florida completing the shoulder rehab necessary for him to help the Nationals celebrate a few more times over the next month. The left-handed reliever threw 25 pitches in a simulated game Friday, took Saturday off, and threw 25 pitches in another simulated game Sunday. On Monday, he was activated from the disabled list, where he had been placed Aug. 17 because of shoulder inflammation two days after his last outing.
“It feels pretty good,” Solis said. “Definitely longer than expected. I was thinking 15 days I’ll be back but it just wasn’t cooperating well. But I’m feeling strong now, feeling ready and I’m ready for his push.”
Solis, 28, has posted a 2.35 ERA across 38 1/3 innings in 34 relief appearances this season, his first full campaign at the major league level. The Nationals have four other left-handers on the roster — Marc Rzepcyznski, Oliver Perez, Sean Burnett and Matt Grace — but Solis is regarded as the best option because of his ability to get both lefties and righties out and throw more than one inning if needed. Left-handed hitters are batting .200 with a .551 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 61 plate appearances against Solis. Right-handed hitters are faring better, but still not great: .232 batting average and .668 OPS in 100 plate appearances.
The Dodgers, Washington’s opponent in the National League Divisional Series, have been significantly better against right-handers than left-handers this season, though they’ve hit lefties better lately. Solis’s availability, as a result, is all the more important. Solis was unavailable Monday because he pitched Sunday, leaving him six regular season games to gather game experience and prepare for the playoffs. Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for Oct. 7.
“We’re trying to win games, but we’re trying to get guys back healthy, too,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said before the Nationals’ game Monday. “Hopefully we have a situation where we can get him into the game tomorrow. It doesn’t leave a bunch of time for us to get him sharp, buy they told me that he’s feeling good and he threw the ball well.”