PITTSBURGH The Nationals are in Pittsburgh but pitcher Stephen Strasburg was in Lynchburg, Virginia, on Tuesday.
The right-handed pitcher made a minor league rehab appearance for high Single-A Potomac on the road in a Carolina League contest against the Hillcats, a farm club of the Cleveland Indians.
Strasburg went 3 1/3 innings and allowed one run on two hits with five strikeouts. He threw 57 pitches at Lynchburg, with 34 strikes before being lifted with one out in the fourth.
Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10 with right shoulder inflammation. He is 6-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 starts this year for the Nationals
The Nationals desperately need starting pitching help, with just two wins from starters since June 7.
Jefry Rodriguez lasted just five innings here Monday and Tanner Roark went just four innings at home on Sunday in a loss to the Marlins. Hellickson, who started here Tuesday against the Pirates, went just four innings in his last start at home last week.
“It’s so ingrained in us; we have to protect our bullpen,” ace right-hander Max Scherzer told 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday.
Before the Nationals game in Pittsburgh, the team put closer Sean Doolittle on the 10-day disabled list with left toe inflammation and sent Rodriguez to Triple-A Syracuse.
Doolittle, named to the National League All-Star team Sunday, has 22 saves and has an ERA of 1.45 in 35 games. The University of Virginia product won’t be active with the Nationals until after the All-Star break and he won’t be able to pitch in the All-Star game. Kelvin Herrera, acquired from Kansas City last month, will become the Nationals’ closer with Doolittle out.
“These guys, they’ve been putting in a lot of work, and I feel bad that I haven’t been able to help them,” Doolittle told reporters in Pittsburgh. “Right now, this is the only way I can help them, by giving my spot to somebody else who can.”
Rodriguez went five innings in his third start of the year at Pittsburgh on Monday and was charged with the loss in the 6-3 setback. To take the spots of Doolittle and Rodriguez (0-1, 6.86 in five games), the Nationals called up right-handers Austin Voth and Wander Suero from Syracuse.
Both have spent time with the Nationals this season though Voth had not been used in a game. The Nationals entered Monday 45-45 and in third place behind Atlanta and Philadelphia, who were both 50-39.