- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 23, 2018

Washington Nationals right-hander Brandon Kintzler, one of 11 players on the disabled list, is scheduled for a rehab assignment Sunday with the Potomac Nationals, manager Dave Martinez said before Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Kintzler was placed on the 10-day DL on June 10 with a right forearm flexor strain. Since then, the Nationals traded for right-hander Kelvin Herrera, another back-end bullpen option. If Kintzler’s appearance Sunday goes to plan, Martinez said he hopes Kintzler will travel with the team to Tampa Bay for the two-game set Monday and Tuesday against the Rays.

Adding Kintzler back to Washington’s relief corps creates an array of potential matchups late in games with Herrera, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson healthy.

“Brandon throws groundballs. So, in a situation where we need a groundball, whether it’s the sixth inning, seventh inning, whatever, he’s the guy,” Martinez said. “When we need strikeouts, you have those other guys. So, he’s definitely a big part of our success moving forward.”

Starter Jeremy Hellickson will also feature for the Potomac Nationals, Washington’s Class-A affiliate, on Sunday. Hellickson was added to the disabled list June 4 with a hamstring injury. As a result, rookies starters Erick Fedde and Jefry Rodriguez will face the Phillies in the Nationals’ final two contests of the series.

Because Herrera has past experience as a closer with the Kansas City Royals — the 28-year-old has 14 saves this season — Martinez could rotate between Doolittle and Herrera based on matchups in the future.

Martinez said he’s talked about it but doesn’t plan on implementing a switch any time soon.

“We talked about that. Not right now. But as we get closer to September, stuff like that, those things might happen, but it’ll be a conversation I have with all of them,” Martinez said. “Doo’s good. Left, right, he gets guys out. And he’s done that. He’s pitched in the ninth inning, so has Herrera. So, they’re both really good, and to be able to have them and Madson and Kintzler at the back end there, it’s a good feeling when you’ve got the lead in the sixth, seventh inning, you have those guys coming in.”

In a lefty-heavy lineup to face Philadelphia right-hander Aaron Nola on Saturday, Daniel Murphy will play first base as he works back from offseason knee surgery. He was activated off the disabled list June 12 and has played first base more often than his usual second base since the return.

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been on the disabled list since May 10 with a back injury, but Martinez said he should be in line for a rehab assignment in about a week. In Zimmerman’s stead initially was Matt Adams and Mark Reynolds, but Adams joined the disabled list June 16 with a broken left index finger.

Zimmerman’s impending return could assist a club currently hitting .238, 28 percentage points below last year’s average. It depends upon a successful rehab assignment, though.

“He’s missed a lot of time,” Martinez said, “so we’ve got to get him some at-bats.”

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