- - Friday, June 29, 2018

Where’s Waldo?

For Nationals fans, it’s more like where’s Strasburg? As in Stephen (Strasburg). Or where’s Ryan (Zimmerman), Matt (Wieters) or Matt (Adams)?

The Nationals, who have lost 10 of 14 and six in a row on the road, are hesitant to give out much news on injured players.

But here is a look at those players currently on the disabled list who were on the Opening Day roster, in the order of how vital their return would be to a club that was 41-38 going into Friday’s game in Philadelphia.

Stephen Strasburg, pitcher (16 games missed, very important)

The starting rotation has been a strength for years for the Nationals.

But the Nationals have had to use young, inexperienced big leaguers Erick Fedde and Jefry Rodriguez in the past week since Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson, who joined the team in late April, have been on the disabled list. The Nats have given up six runs or more six times since June 15.

Fedde is slated to start Friday against the Phillies and Nick Pivetta, a former minor league pitcher with the Nationals. Hellickson could start Saturday in Philadelphia, with Gio Gonzalez slated to go Sunday.

Strasburg went on the disabled list June 10 with right shoulder inflammation and there is a chance he could be out until after the All-Star break. He is 6-6 with an ERA of 3.46 in his first 13 starts this season, with 95 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings. He threw off flat ground Thursday and could throw a bullpen session soon.

The former No. 1 draft pick entered this season with a career ERA of 3.07, with a mark of 2.52 last year when he was 15-5. Strasburg has made more than 30 starts just once in a career that began in 2012.

Ryan Zimmerman, first base (41 games, very important)

Zimmerman went on the disabled list May 12 with a right oblique strain, the result of when he dove for a ball while playing first.

Even though he is hitting .217 with five homers in 33 games, Zimmerman does give the Nationals a right-handed threat in the middle of the order. He entered this season with a lifetime average of .280, including .303 in 2017.

Manager Dave Martinez said Zimmerman could begin a minor league rehab assignment soon.

“As soon as he’s ready to play, I’ll have to sit down and talk to him,” Martinez said earlier this week at Tampa Bay, where the Nats were outscored 12-0 in two games. “I’d like for him to go and get some at-bats. I know these guys don’t like on rehab assignments. But for him I think it’s important that he does just to get some at-bats and get back to playing.”

For now the Nationals are at the mercy of left-handed handed pitchers, with a record of 8-16 against such starters. Lefty swinger Daniel Murphy has been playing a lot of first base against right-handed starters. Mark Reynolds, a righty swinger, plays first against some lefties.

Other key lefty hitters for the Nationals are outfielders Bryce Harper (.220, one homer in June), rookie Juan Soto (.318) and veteran Adam Eaton (.289).

Matt Wieters, catcher (40 games, important)

The Nationals are getting little offense from their catches this year, but Wieters would be an upgrade over current starter Pedro Severino (.175 batting, .231 slugging).

Switch-hitter Wieters was hitting .231 with a slugging mark of .385 when he injured his left hamstring in early May. He was hitting .245 against lefties. At first it appeared he may be out for the year but Martinez has inferred he could return at some point.

He has the only three homers hit this season by a Washington catcher.

Matt Adams, first base/left field (12 games, important)

Adams was the best hitter for the Nationals for part of the season but went on the disabled list June 19 after fracturing his left index finger in Toronto.

He is hitting .275 with 13 homers, 36 RBI and an OPS of .906. The Nats could use his bat — they have been shutout four times since June 16.

Howie Kendrick, infielder/outfielder (35 games, does not apply)

The loss of Kendrick was a key blow to the Nationals, since he can play second base, first base and the outfield. He was the regular second baseman early on and was hitting .303 with a slugging percentage of .474. Current second baseman Wilmer Difo is hitting .244 with a slugging mark of .346.

Kendrick was lost for the season when he injured his right Achilles going for a fly ball on the warning track at Nationals Park in May. He is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Other Nationals on the disabled list who did not start the year on the active roster include Hellickson, catcher Jhonaton Solano and right-handed pitchers Koda Glover, Joe Ross and Joaquin Benoit — the latter three have not pitched all year.

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