If it seemed odd that Nationals manager Dusty Baker used Shawn Kelley to close out Monday’s 4-1 victory against the Cubs instead of Jonathan Papelbon, there was a reason. Papelbon was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a strained intercostal, the club announced. The Nationals reinstated reliever Matt Belisle from the disabled list.
Papelbon struggled in his most recent appearance against the Phillies on Sunday, giving up a leadoff home run to Maikel Franco to break a 3-3 tie. However, the Nationals were able to storm for two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off win.
Thus far, Papelbon has been solid but not his usual elite self. He has registered the save in 16 of 18 attempts with a 3.28 ERA and a 19/8 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings. The 35-year-old currently holds what would be a career-low strikeout rate (18.6%) if the season were to end today. His 7.8 percent walk rate would be his highest since 2010.
The Nationals have been linked in trade rumors to the Yankees, who could make Aroldis Chapman and/or Andrew Miller available. Kelley should be reliable in the short-term, though, as he owns a 2.70 ERA with a dynamite 34/5 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings this season.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.