MILWAUKEE — There won’t be too many new faces in the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse at Miller Park on Friday afternoon when active rosters expand from 25 to 40 players.
Instead of promoting a crop of promising young prospects or an influx of minor league talent for the stretch run, the Nationals instead will bolster themselves with healthy talent off the disabled list.
“A lot of the guys that would’ve been September call-ups have already been here, in July and August and now September,” manager Dusty Baker said Thursday before the Nationals lost 6-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a four-game series. “We’ve got a few guys slated to come back. I think almost all the guys that are slated to come back have been here.”
Among the first wave of players expected to join the team Friday is right-handed reliever Enny Romero, who was a key contributor out of the Washington bullpen before a strained left forearm sent him to the disabled list on Aug. 3.
In seven minor league rehab appearances, Romero allowed five runs (three earned) over 6 1/3 innings.
“He’s been pitching,” Baker said. “Hopefully he can come back and learn something where he was and come back sharp.”
Right-hander Tanner Roark (11-8, 4.63 ERA) gets the start Friday as the Nationals try to even the series at a game apiece. Roark has never lost to the Brewers, going 3-0 with a 3.07 ERA in five career appearances (four starts), including a 1-0 mark and 3.29 ERA in two career starts at Miller Park.
Milwaukee will turn to its ace, right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who is in the midst of a breakout season. Nelson (10-6, 3.75 ERA) was impressive his last time out, no-hitting the Dodgers through five innings then holding them to two runs over 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking two.
“Jimmy was really good,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He pitched beautifully. No hits through five innings. We probably should’ve escaped with just giving up one run. He pitched beautifully.”
Nelson has made four career starts against Washington, going 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA, including a no-decision after yielding two runs in seven innings on July 26 at Nationals Park.
The Brewers expect to have Travis Shaw back in the lineup Friday after he missed two games with a sore left foot, but catcher Manny Pina’s status is still uncertain thanks to a sore hip that forced him from the Tuesday game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pina is slated to undergo further testing on the hip Friday.
“Manny is hurting a little bit, still,” Counsell said Thursday. “He’s improving a little bit and able to play in an emergency, but we’re concerned enough where we want to make sure he is all right.”
Catcher Andrew Susac will return from the disabled list Friday, providing Milwaukee depth in case Pina needs more time.