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Taylor, Solis called up; Johnson to DL; Cole sent down

Apr 29, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT

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Updated at 6:39 p.m.

ATLANTA — The Nationals made another flurry of roster moves Wednesday afternoon, promoting outfielder Michael Taylor and left-hander Sammy Solis to the majors, placing outfielder Reed Johnson on the 15-day disabled list and optioning right-hander A.J. Cole back to the minors after his difficult debut the previous night.

The moves were necessary for two reasons: 1) The Nationals planned to send Cole down all along following his spot start in place of injured ace Max Scherzer and needed to add a reliever to bring their bullpen back up to full capacity, and 2) Johnson’s calf strain, suffered during the seventh inning Tuesday night, opened a vacancy for another backup outfielder.

Johnson is expected to miss significant time with what the team officially called a left calf strain. (Manager Matt Williams initially said Tuesday night that Johnson “tore” a muscle in his foot that extended up the back of his lower leg.) The 38-year-old outfielder, who had doubled in a key run during the Nationals’ record-setting rally, was 4-for-18 on the season.

“The severity is that it’s a pulled muscle there, a pulled muscle on the outside that kind of runs underneath your foot,” Williams said Wednesday. “Now that he’s on the DL, we’ll get him the opportunity to go see [a doctor] and get [an MRI] of it and see what it is exactly.”

The choice of Taylor to replace Johnson was a bit of a surprise, given the Nationals’ decision to option the promising young outfielder back to Class AAA Syracuse only nine days ago when Denard Span came off the DL. The thinking was that Taylor needed to play every day and wouldn’t get enough at-bats at the big-league level.

The Nationals, though, feel they can give Taylor at least a couple starts a week, trying to give Span and Jayson Werth (who also missed all of spring training) more regular days off.

“We might have an opportunity to get him more at-bats than before,” general manager Mike Rizzo said, “with Werth and Span kind of rounding out of spring training shape.”

Solis, meanwhile, will become the fifth different pitcher to make his MLB debut for the Nationals in the last two weeks after his promotion from Class AA Harrisburg. The 26-year-old lefty, the organization’s second-round pick in the 2010 draft, originally was touted as back-of-the-rotation candidate but after dealing with injuries in the minors (including Tommy John surgery in 2012) he now gets his chance to make it as a reliever.

“I wouldn’t say I ever doubted myself as a ballplayer,” said Solis, who had an army of family members and friends fly in from Phoenix to see him potentially debut in Atlanta. “But I doubted whether my body could handle it. Last year, I felt fantastic, and then I get up to Harrisburg and my elbow starts barking again. That was the toughest thing for me, because I had already gone through Tommy John, had come back and then to fall backward again was hard. But I’ve just been working as hard as I can, and holding up now, which is nice.”

Rated the Nationals’ 15th-best prospect by Baseball America this winter, Solis posted a 2.25 ERA in three games at Harrisburg after opening the season at extended spring training. He owns a 3.30 ERA in parts of five minor-league seasons.

“He’s a guy with really good stuff,” Rizzo said. “And every time I’ve seen him pitch, be it in the minor leagues or as an amateur or big-league camp, he’s thrown extremely well for us. He just keeps getting sidetracked by these injuries. We thought maybe a bullpen role will keep him able to pitch more.”

Wednesday’s moves leave the Nationals with three left-handers in their bullpen for the time being, with Solis joining veteran Matt Thornton and fellow rookie Matt Grace.

  1. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 29, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    I think BA had him in their top 100 overall, maybe 89th?

  2. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 29, 2015 at 3:28 PM

    I know his speed is not put to best use in left, but at least for now, that might be a better spot for him, giving Werth a break now and then. Give him a chance to settle down.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 29, 2015 at 6:28 PM

      “His” being Michael A. Taylor’s, of course.
      Illegal Use of Pronouns, 5 yards.

  3. nattygoats - Apr 29, 2015 at 3:34 PM

    Cole sent down? Wonder why.

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 29, 2015 at 4:33 PM

      It’s wasn’t because he pitched badly yesterday. He could have thrown six innings of no-hit ball and they’d still have sent him down because he as only up to give Scherzer a few days to slip down in the rotation until his pitching hand was ready.

  4. jd - Apr 29, 2015 at 3:50 PM

    Pulling for Solis. His career has been totally derailed by serious injuries. If he can be an effective reliever he would e a great asset.

    I think the effect of Stammen’s loss was under estimated. We have been completely unable to fill his role.

  5. phillygirl1807 - Apr 29, 2015 at 3:56 PM

    What about trading Ian Desmond for a decent closer. I wasn’t sure Drew Storen would get through last night’s ninth inning. He allows to many hits. We need a “lights out” closer if we want to win close games.

    • infideljack - Apr 29, 2015 at 4:10 PM

      Desmond is a six month rental with lots of issues. Maybe someone would offer a journeyman reliever.

    • Sweet. Fancy. Charles. - Apr 29, 2015 at 4:22 PM

      Well, he didn’t give up a hit last night, and the walk was strategic. So there’s that.

  6. philipd763 - Apr 29, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    If Cole is the future of the starting pitching staff after Fister, Strasburg and Zimmermann leave, we are in deep doo doo!

    • jd - Apr 29, 2015 at 4:14 PM

      and you say this after 1 appearence?

      Good thing you are not in a decision making capacity.

    • infideljack - Apr 29, 2015 at 4:38 PM

      I think we do have a worry since Roark will have to take over Stammen’s role this year. He is not going to be able to fill in for an injury. The bullpen only has Storen, Thornton and Roark who have any real and proven big league experience.

    • therealjohnc - Apr 29, 2015 at 4:54 PM

      (1) Judging Cole’s future by his first appearance is silly. He’s a sinkerballer, and if you amp up a sinkerball pitcher then he loses location and the sinker straightens out. Sometimes you’ll hear a pitcher say that he was “too strong” in a game. This effect is why many sinkerballers prefer to pitch tired. This may well have been what happened to Cole yesterday. In any event, many solid-to-spectacular major leaguers have debuted horrendously. I’m certainly not penciling Cole into the rotation based on yesterday, but I’m not going to simply dismiss him because he got smacked around in his debut.

      (2) That said, most talent evaluators tend to project Cole as a #4 or #5 starter. Nothing wrong with that, such pitchers often have solid careers. Such starters can be found in the rotation of just about every playoff contender.

      (3) But you are right that a rotation needs high end performers as anchors. Fortunately, the Nationals have pitchers with TOR potential, like Lucas Giolito (considered by many to be the #1 RHP prospect in the minors) and Reynaldo Lopez. A sleeper to keep an eye on is Jefry Rodriguez, who is a long way off but from all accounts has excellent stuff.

      • infideljack - Apr 29, 2015 at 5:42 PM

        I do not see any of those three moving to the majors before 2016. Your right about Cole. but I think he needs to pitch more at AAA. Since we lost Stammen for the year, I cannot see Roark filling in in the rotation, so Cole will probably be back sometime this year.
        It is a good thing we got Scherzer because without him, Roark is not available for the pen unless we stic a rookie in the 5th slot in the rotation. Next year we will have to do that.

  7. Steady Eddie - Apr 29, 2015 at 4:35 PM

    He’s exclusively in a “you kids get off my lawn” capacity.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 29, 2015 at 6:33 PM

      Everybody has a contribution to make.

  8. langleyclub - Apr 29, 2015 at 5:34 PM

    Solis will only stay up until Janssen is ready to return, which may be very soon.

    The only OFs on the current Nats 40 man roster that were eligible to be brought up were:

    – Den Dekker – who is hitting below the Mendoza line in AAA
    – Goodwin – who was hurt and clearly not MLB ready
    – Taylor – who was the Nats best run producer during the first two weeks of the season, and on roster that lacks speed, is the fastest player in the roster.

    MAT was really the only option.

    Hope that MW give MAT no less than two starts are week, but will believe it when I see it (Tyler Moore has 1 start in the last 10 games; even though Ryan Zimmerman has struggles and has been hobbling). MW has shown a reluctance to use his bench even when the starters are slumping. If Johnson’s injury is long-term and McClouth does not comeback, wonder if the Nats will look to acquire another bench player if MAT is not getting regular ABs.

    • infideljack - Apr 29, 2015 at 5:45 PM

      Sooner or later, Werth has to be a bench guy. I guess they will wait for 2017 to do that.

      • Joe Seamhead - Apr 29, 2015 at 5:54 PM

        Sooner or later every player has to either be a bench guy, or get DFA. Jayson Werth has earned his stripes on this team to be given more time to recover, and adjust, from his injury.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 29, 2015 at 6:32 PM

        And as always, it’s not “compared to perfect,” it’s “compared to the alternative.” Werth moved to left when he and Bryce were both ready to do so. He’ll move to the bench when they have somebody better to start, long-term.

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