Sean Burnett's recent struggles out of the bullpen haven't been a result only of poor execution but of an elbow issue that plagued the left-hander earlier this summer and has come back to haunt him again.
Burnett got treatment after yesterday's game for "a little inflammation" in his throwing elbow, manager Davey Johnson said this morning. Johnson said the 29-year-old reliever would likely need to rest for a "couple of days."
The Nationals' primary setup man all season, Burnett acknowledged in mid-July he had been dealing with elbow tightness for about six weeks. He bounced back, though, and tossed 10 consecutive scoreless outings through August 10.
But over his last eight appearances, spanning six innings, Burnett has been tagged for 16 hits, with opponents posting a 1.220 OPS against him. He was charged with blown saves each of the last two days after giving up the tying run to the Cardinals on both Saturday and Sunday.
Johnson said he became aware of the recurring problem following yesterday's win.
"After the game, he got treatment," the manager said. "That's not usually what he does."
Johnson said Burnett was not scheduled to receive an MRI on the elbow.