The Nationals completed their 2011 roster expansion this afternoon, adding right-hander Brad Peacock and infielder Steve Lombardozzi, along with right-handers Yunesky Maya, Craig Stammen, left-hander Atahualpa Severino and outfielder Corey Brown.
In order to create space on the team’s 40-man roster for Stephen Strasburg, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list, Peacock and Lombardozzi, they’ve moved Cole Kimball to the 60-day disabled list, released right-hander Adam Carr and designated right-hander Garrett Mock for assignment.
While Maya, Stammen and Severino have all been up with the Nationals at some point this season, it’s the first time for Peacock, Lombardozzi and Brown. If and when they get into a game, it will be the major league debuts for all three, along with Severino, who has been up but never been used.
Peacock’s debut, in particular, could come very soon. The Nationals have not announced any plans to postpone tonight’s game, but it sounds as though any conditions less than ideal will not feature Stephen Strasburg taking the mound tonight. In that case, Peacock would start the game. Either way, Peacock figures to follow Strasburg to the mound.
And when he does indeed take that mound, it’ll be just the second big league stadium Peacock has ever even been inside — let alone pitch for the team playing there. The first was during the Futures Game in Arizona this past July. For a kid who threw just eight innings in high school, spending most of his time as a light-hitting third baseman, and was drafted in the 41st round in 2006, it was, is and will be a surreal moment.
“Oh God yeah, it’s unbelievable,” Peacock said when asked about his feelings on the topic. “It’s what I’ve been waiting for my whole life and I’m just ready to get out there and get the nerves out .Get on the mound and just do what I do.”
Peacock spent much of spring training working with pitching coach Randy Tomlin on improving his deception and then went out and tore up Double-A with a 10-2 record, 2.01 ERA. He has been told that he’ll be used as a starter out of the bullpen. As long as they can continue to line up, he will most likely follow Strasburg to the mound on days that he starts.
“I sat him down and I congratulated him on the year he had and I said I was still going to use him as a starter out of the pen,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “The good news is I’d give him plenty of time. The bad news is he’d follow Strasburg… I said he would not relieve during the inning. I said he would start the inning clean and he would warm up like a starter and then I’ll use him behind Strasburg on his full rest.
“It’s not a perfect world. I hate to have a rookie following somebody that has as much hype going as Stras does… But he’s comfortable with that, and I am too.”
There will be plenty of other players Johnson needs to find a comfortable balance with for the rest of this month as well. The Nationals active roster is currently at 36. Ryan Matthues (15-day disabled list), and prospects Matt Purke, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper are the only other players on the Nationals current 40-man roster.
One of the main ones will be infielder Lombardozzi, a Columbia, M.D., native and son of former major leaguer Stephen Lombardozzi. He took up residence inside the Nationals clubhouse today, just down a few stalls from Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond — the latest young, talented Nationals infielder to hit the major leagues. Lombardozzi will be used at both shortstop and second base this month — and perhaps even third base. Though he is primarily a second baseman, Lombardozzi said he’s starting to feel more comfortable at shortstop.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” Lombardozzi said of his first big league call-up. “And to be so close to home, it’s a pretty unbelievable feeling.”
Here’s a quick primer on the recent call-ups and their stats this season:
Peacock, a Double-A Eastern League All-Star, went 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 25 games/22 starts in 2011 with Triple-A Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg. The 23-year-old ranks among all minor league pitchers in wins (second), strikeouts (seventh) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.86, fifth).
Lombardozzi hit .309 with 42 extra-base hits (eight home runs), 52 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 134 games this season with Syracuse and Harrisburg. Lombardozzi was drafted by the Nationals in the 19th round in 2008 and hit .298 with 17 homers, 183 RBI and 74 stolen bases during his four seasons in the minor leagues.
Brown hit .235 with 18 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 39 RBI and four stolen bases in 124 games this season at Triple-A. The 25-year-old posted a .330 batting average, .413 on-base percentage and .549 slugging percentage with five home runs and 14 RBI in his final 29 Triple-A games. A first-round pick (59th overall) by Oakland in the 2007 draft, Brown came to the Nationals in the 2010 trade that sent Josh Willingham to the A’s and brought he and Henry Rodriguez to Washington.
Maya is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts this season with Washington. In 22 starts with Syracuse in 2011, he was 4-9 with a 5.00 ERA.
Stammen is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two relief appearances this season with the Nationals. He went 10-7 with a 4.75 ERA in 25 games/24 starts in 2011 with Syracuse.
Severino returns for his third career stint with the Nationals but he has never pitched. If and when he gets into a game this time, it would also be his major league debut. In 35 relief appearances with Syracuse this season, he was 1-2 with one save and a 4.50 ERA.