“We’re going to miss him today,” Martinez said Friday afternoon. “I told him … ‘Hey, family’s always first.’ I mean, I get it. I understand. The timing didn’t work out like we thought.”
The 32-year-old expects to be back for Game 2 on Saturday. The player designated to be deactivated whenever he returns is Wander Suero, a right-handed reliever Manager Dave Martinez leaned on throughout the season (his 78 appearances led the team). The Nationals kept two long men, Javy Guerra and Austin Voth, ahead of Suero because of the longer, best-of-seven series.
“Right now, we’re better off with having Guerra,” Martinez said. “I mean, if we have to use Voth for a couple innings tonight or the next day, he might be down for a day, so — or two. So having Guerra is important.”
Hudson’s absence is important. He and left-hander Sean Doolittle are the two relievers on whom Martinez relies the most. Martinez would probably use Tanner Rainey in Hudson’s high-leverage role if the situation dictated Friday night, though any save opportunity probably would fall to Doolittle.
Rainey, a 26-year-old right-hander with a high-90s fastball, earned Martinez’s trust in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the NLDS in Los Angeles. He entered and retired both hitters he faced. Martinez complimented Rainey’s body of work since September started, when he allowed two runs in 91/3 innings while posting a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 14-3. The free passes are what hurt Rainey in the past, but if he has put those issues behind him, he could be a big boost for the Nationals’ bullpen in Hudson’s absence.
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