- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sammy Solis didn’t have the answers.

The Washington Nationals reliever entered Saturday’s game with his team down 9-0 against the Atlanta Braves in the ninth inning to get some reps. He was making just his fourth appearance since returning July 1 from the disabled list after missing 65 games with elbow soreness.

By the time Solis left Saturday’s game, the Braves’ lead had ballooned to 13-0 and Solis had surrendered four runs on four hits and two walks on 34 pitches. He lasted just a third of the inning.

“That’s the most frustrating part,” said Solis, who insisted he is healthy. “There’s really not an answer. That’s what I’m searching for right now. The toughest part is all I can keep doing is just keep working. You know, all I can do is just keep pitching, in order to make things better right now, is to keep going back out there.”

The Nationals optioned Solis to Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday, the first move in what could be a series of changes for the bullpen. Solis’s ERA is a disastrous 14.73, up from just a 2.41 ERA a year ago.

Washington did not announce a corresponding move, but they have their options as they begin the second half of the season Friday. Before the All-Star break, manager Dusty Baker said the Nationals were about to be “crowded here real soon” and moves needed to be made to free up roster space.

The Nationals are waiting for relievers Shawn Kelly and Koda Glover, who have both have missed more than 20 games since being put on the DL. Kelley (right trapezius strain) and Glover (lower back stiffness), however, began to throw before the break, an encouraging sign in the rehab process.

Edwin Jackson and Francisco Rodriguez could also be options to replace Solis. The Nationals took fliers on the veteran pitchers, signing them to minor-league contracts to see if they can solve their bullpen problems.

In Triple-A this season, Jackson has a 1.57 ERA in 16 games.

“We didn’t sign him for no reason,” Baker said Friday. “But we have to see if he’s indeed Edwin Jackson or see if there’s room.”

As for Solis, there’s no easy solution to getting back on track. He said he’ll use the minor leagues to focus on getting better and that he’s in the process of fine-tuning his mechanics after his elbow injury, though he feels fine physically.

“I feel physically strong and the ball is coming out well,” Solis said. “Velocity is not really down. I think it’s more of a matter of executing pitches. I’m getting of guys 0-2, 1-2 a lot, but I’ve given up a lot of hits in those counts too. There’s not much to say right now other than I have to keep working. “

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