Posted on June 30, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Thursday was a rough day for the Washington Nationals. The club saw its bullpen blow yet another lead in a loss to the Cubs. Then to add injury to insult, the Nationals have lost shortstop Trea Turner for the foreseeable future. Turner suffered a broken wrist in the 7th inning of Thursday’s loss after being hit by a pitch from Cubs reliever Pedro Strop.
Surprisingly, Turner was able to stay in the game initially. He took the field the following inning and caught a routine pop up. However, he left in the top of the 9th, which is when Washington’s bullpen allowed the Cubs to come back and take the lead.
“I had tape on my wrist, so initially it didn’t feel that bad,” Turner said after the game. “So I stayed in there a little bit, and then after a little while, it started stiffening up on me so I figured I’d get out of there. In a close game, didn’t want to make a double-cut play or whatever it might be.”
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Turner underwent X-rays after the game that revealed a nondisplaced fracture of his right wrist. At this point, there is no timetable for his return. But he’ll likely miss a significant period of time.
“It sucks,” Turner said of the injury. “I’m trying to have a good at-bat right there. You wish it hit you in the back or arm or something — not the hand or wrist, which is never fun. I thought about Freddie Freeman earlier in the year, that’s no fun. It is what it is, you have to roll with it.”
Turner missed time April with a strained hamstring, but other than that, he’s been an important part of Washington’s lineup this year. On the season, he’s hitting .279 with an OPS of .746. He’s also stolen 35 bases, which leads the majors. He’s been particularly important since taking over the leadoff spot in the lineup when Adam Eaton suffered a serious knee injury. With Eaton out for the year and now Turner on the shelf for an extended period of time, the Nationals will have to move on to their third-choice leadoff hitter.
Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin, who have both become regulars in Washington’s outfield because of injuries to Eaton and Jayson Werth, may be the best options. Taylor is having a strong year offensively and would bring plenty of speed to the top of the order. Goodwin, meanwhile, has a much higher on-base percentage. Outside of those two, manager Dusty Baker may need to get a little creative when searching for a leadoff hitter to replace Turner.
At shortstop, the Nationals have a couple options to replace Turner. Veteran Stephen Drew is likely first in line for the job. Drew has just 54 at-bats this year after missing six weeks with a hamstring injury. But he is hitting .333 with six extra-base hits in that small sample. Wilmer Difo is also an option. He’s hitting just .194 this year, but he’s a better defensive player than Drew.
The silver lining is that Washington has a sizable lead atop the NL East. Even with a few key players injured and an unreliable bullpen, it’s hard to envision the Nationals not winning their division. However, those injuries and their bullpen do leave the Nationals a little vulnerable. They also have to wait for a prognosis on Turner to see just how much time he’ll miss. A serious injury could force the Nationals to explore the trade market for reinforcements later this summer.