The blow is not only poorly timed but particularly concerning for a 34-year-old who has already been through two Tommy John surgeries. But both Hudson and Manager Dave Martinez signaled the injury is not cause for substantial concern, particularly after an MRI exam revealed no structural damage, just inflammation in the back of his elbow in the triceps area.
“I’ve had some pretty catastrophic elbow injuries, and I don’t feel anything similar to what I was feeling,” Hudson said. “It’s just all in the back in the triceps area. There’s nothing in the forearm, nothing in the elbow joint. It’s just all in the triceps. That’s why there was not really much concern for me.”
Hudson said he felt normal after throwing 1⅔ innings Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, tied for his longest outing of the year. But when he showed up and threw Thursday, something didn’t feel right. The Nationals shut him down, then put him on the injured list Saturday in part to give him a rest, in part because they needed a roster spot to add pitching ahead of the doubleheader. Because of Scherzer’s injury Friday night, five Nationals relievers combined to cover 8⅔ innings.
“It just wasn’t quite ready,” Hudson said of his elbow. “Obviously the situation last night, we needed a roster spot. So we just figured it would be smart to shut it down for a few days and see if we can get it all out of there and go from there.”
Hudson, who collected the final out of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series title, was pitching to a 2.59 ERA in 23 appearances, and his absence leaves the club without a clear bridge to closer Brad Hand or a clear right-handed closing option. Martinez said he hopes Tanner Rainey and Kyle Finnegan can help fill those roles until Hudson returns, though both have battled inconsistency.
The Nationals did their best to restock their pitching staff for Saturday as they activated Erick Fedde to start Game 1 and brought up right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who Martinez said would start Game 2 unless the Nationals needed him in Game 1. They also selected the contract of righty Andres Machado, who had been playing with Team Venezuela before returning to Class AAA Rochester. Machado is a 28-year-old right-hander who is pitching to a sub-1.00 ERA in seven appearances with the Red Wings. Machado will serve as the 27th man for the doubleheader, then be sent back to Rochester.
“If he gets a chance to pitch today, it’ll be nice to see what he can do,” Martinez said. “He’s a right-hander who throws hard, has good movement on his fastball, has a good slider, so I’m interested to see how he does here if we get him in the game. He could be a possibility as well. He’s pitched in the back end at [Class AAA].”
The Nationals moved right-hander Will Harris to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster. They also optioned outfielder Yadiel Hernández to Rochester. Despite emerging as one of the Nationals’ more pleasant surprises early in the season, Hernandez has only six at-bats this month. On a day the Nationals found themselves scrambling for pitching depth, they decided to trade his bench spot for bullpen help.
Read more on the Nationals: