The Washington Nationals have experienced another significant injury to their starting lineup. After losing right-hander Doug Fister to a flexor strain in his right forearm, they have now lost a huge bat in their lineup. Veteran right fielder Jayson Werth has been diagnosed with two small fractures in his left wrist after undergoing a CT scan and is expected to be out until at least August, as reported by Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Werth suffered the injury after being hit by a pitch on May 15. He had already missed some time earlier in the year as he was recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery he underwent in the offseason. The right-handed slugger has played in just 27 games this season and has struggled to get in rhythm as he has managed only a .208/.294/.287 slash line across 119 plate appearances so far this season. A return date in August might be overly optimistic, considering the lengthy rehab process he will have to undergo. Either way, his absence leaves a huge void in the lineup as, despite his struggles so far, he is still capable of great power from the right side of the dish. This will put even more pressure on young outfielder Bryce Harper to produce at the plate and carry the team further for the time being. So far he is doing just that, crushing the ball with a whopping 18 home runs and a sizzling 1.215 OPS at the dish, but whether he can continue this rapid pace over the course of the season remains to be seen.
It is unclear how the Nationals will fill the hole left by Werth. They do have some outfield depth in the form of youngster Michael Taylor, but he has struggled so far this year, striking out 12 times in just 26 plate appearances. There are other alternatives internally, such as outfielders Tyler Moore, Clint Robinson, and rehabbing Nate McLouth, but it is doubtful any of those options can fill the hole left by Werth for a long stretch of time. The Nationals may be forced to look outside the organization to find someone who is capable of producing in a similar fashion as Werth, which will most likely be very difficult as few players are capable of producing like Werth is and the trade market still has yet to develop in the young season. For right now, all the Nationals can do is hope their in-house options are good enough to fill the void for as long as they can to keep this team in the postseason hunt.
Written by: Daniel Sherriff @dsurbigapp