Nationals move struggling Doug Fister to bullpen, will keep Joe Ross in rotation

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With Stephen Strasburg due to come back from the disabled list on Saturday against the Rockies, Mark Zuckerman of CSNMA.com reports that the Nationals have decided to move the struggling Doug Fister to the bullpen while keeping rookie Joe Ross in the starting rotation.

Fister finished eighth in the balloting for the 2014 NL Cy Young Award after posting a 2.41 in 25 starts, but he hasn’t looked anything like that pitcher so far this season. The 31-year-old has a 4.60 ERA through 15 starts and has already allowed as many earned runs as he did all last year. He missed some time during the first half with a flexor strain in his elbow and has shown diminished velocity, so the Nationals can’t afford to keep running him out there every fifth day as they try to keep pace with the first-place Mets in the National League East.

The decision was handed down after Ross had another strong start this afternoon against the Diamondbacks, tossing six innings of one-run ball while striking out seven batters and walking none. The 22-year-old rookie owns an impressive 2.80 ERA and 47/4 K/BB ratio in 45 innings and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all seven of his starts. He has already thrown 121 innings this season between the majors and the minors, essentially matching his career-high workload from last year, so a potential shutdown has been discussed. However, he’s deserving of getting a longer look.

Trea Turner undergoes surgery on right index finger

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Nationals shortstop Trea Turner underwent surgery on his right index finger, MLB.com’s Manny Randhawa reports. Turner suffered a non-displaced fracture when he was hit by a pitch attempting to bunt in early April.

Turner missed six weeks of action and played through the injury for the remainder of the season. He was quite successful, batting .298/.353/.497 with 19 home runs, 57 RBI, 96 runs scored, and 35 stolen bases across 569 plate appearances. Turner’s performance, especially late in the regular season, helped the Nationals claim the first NL Wild Card. They, of course, would go on to win the World Series.

Turner, who is expected to be healed up by the start of spring training, will be entering his second of four years of arbitration eligibility. He will likely get a sizable raise on his $3.725 million 2019 salary.