Nationals battling injuries as Rockies come to town (Jul 28, 2017)

BY AP • July 28, 2017

WASHINGTON -- Every day, it seems as if another member of the Washington Nationals is headed to the disabled list.

That may give the Colorado Rockies an opportunity to slow a recent slide when the teams open a three-game series in Washington on Friday.

The injury bug has hit the Nationals hard, with the latest addition to the DL being All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who will miss his scheduled start against Colorado on Saturday with right elbow nerve impingement. Washington is making the move as a precautionary measure, but it still raises red flags given Strasburg's injury history.

"Big picture: We've got to make sure that he's able to help us win every fifth day in a month or two from now," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "I'm sure he wasn't too happy about it because that's the kind of guy he is. But the training staff back there has been pretty good for us and they usually make the right decision."

Strasburg joins a long list of Nationals regulars who have been sidelined for some time, including outfielders Jayson Werth and Michael A. Taylor, shortstop Trea Turner and relievers Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover. The injuries haven't slowed Washington down, as the Nationals are 9-3 since the All-Star break, but they are looking forward to a full roster.

"I'd be glad to have them all back tomorrow, but the main thing is we want them back hopefully in time to have enough at-bats to get them ready for the end," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "That would be primo."

For Colorado shortstop Ian Desmond, this series means a little bit more than a showdown against a division leader. Desmond played with the Nationals from 2009 to 2015, and this trip marks his first return to D.C. in a visitor's uniform. He has been dealing with a calf injury and did not play Wednesday.

"I built some valuable relationships," Desmond told "I get to see some fans who rooted me on for so long. They were in my corner and supported me on and off the field, through ups and downs. They were there for the journey. Overall, I have a lot of good memories in the city, on the field. I'm looking forward to kind of sparking that again."

The Rockies will send German Marquez (8-4, 4.20 ERA) to the hill for the opener. Marquez is 0-1 with an 18.00 ERA against Washington after facing them on April 25 and allowing nine hits and eight runs. That was Marquez's first career appearance against the Nationals.

As they look to protect their wild-card spot, the Rockies shored up a bullpen that ranks 12th in National League ERA by acquiring reliever Pat Neshek from the Phillies in exchange for three minor-leaguers.

"It's exciting -- jump right into a playoff race," Neshek said.

Washington starter Tanner Roark (8-6, 4.83) seems to have righted the ship after a stretch in which he went 0-4 with an 8.78 ERA over six games (five starts).

He is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last two starts, and he is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against the Rockies. In an April 26 start against Colorado this season, Roark allowed five hits and two runs in five innings and picked up the win in an 11-4 Nationals victory.

"We've got a tough Colorado team coming in these next three days," Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said. "We've got to worry about that and try to win these next three and see where we're at."

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