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.