TORONTO — The Nationals and Yankees will share a strange and complicated experience Monday evening when, at 5:05 p.m., they resume the game suspended due to rain with the score tied in the sixth inning on May 15. They will then play the entire game from May 16 that was postponed by rain. Postponements are commonplace, boring even. But suspended games? Those are complicated.
The game stopped in the middle of the sixth inning with Bryce Harper due to lead off the bottom half. All of that is fine and good. But Howie Kendrick, now out for the season with an Achilles’ injury, is due up third that inning. Andrew Stevenson, since optioned to Class AAA Syracuse, is also in the lineup. Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy, both available now, were not on the active roster that day. Juan Soto had not yet made his major league debut. What are the Nationals to do?
According to rule 7.02(c) of the Major League Baseball rule book, any player who was not in the game at the time it was postponed can be used as a substitute when it resumes. Any player who was not on the active roster when the game began can be used when it resumes. Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said his understanding is that the Nationals must send their lineup changes to the league ahead of time — i.e., who will play in Kendrick’s place, in Stevenson’s place, etc. — and can then proceed with the game as usual. If they want, the Nationals can then replace Kendrick with Murphy and Stevenson with Eaton, or find a place for Soto. If they do find a place for Soto, history will change. He made his major league debut on May 20, 2018. If he plays in a game that officially began on May 15 . . . well, people have dedicated lifetimes to lesser questions.
More importantly to the Nationals, however, is the question of how they will handle their pitching. The game is tied in that sixth inning, with Wander Suero on the mound having thrown a scoreless top of the sixth in relief of Gio Gonzalez. Martinez said the Nationals are not sure how they will handle the rest. They could substitute someone for Suero, or just stick with him, since he fits the situation. Those decisions are still to come.
One decision that came before Sunday’s loss to the Blue Jays was who will start the second game. Erick Fedde, who faced the Yankees just last week in his second big league start of the season, will do so again Monday night. Fedde allowed four runs in five innings at Yankee Stadium.
The Nationals will get a 26th man for that second game, and Adrian Sanchez and Trevor Gott seem like the likely position-playing and pitching candidates, respectively. The Nationals will also need a starter for Tuesday night’s game, the first time they have needed a fifth starter since Jeremy Hellickson’s hamstring injury. Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who relieved Hellickson on the day he was injured, is on turn to start for Class AA Harrisburg, and the tentative plan is for him to open the series against the Orioles, according to a person familiar with the situation. Rodriguez, 24, threw 4 2/3 innings in his major league debut two weeks ago.
Read more on the Nationals: