There are a lot of reasons the Nationals like reliever Sammy Solis, beyond the obvious, that he's simply another good left-hander they can use in late-game spots. He's versatile with the ability to pitch multiple innings and he can also get both lefties and righties out.
Solis holds lefties to a .193 batting average and right-handers to a .229 clip. As manager Dusty Baker has said before, he doesn't have to mix-and-match with Solis like he does with other left-handed relievers.
Tuesday night was the first time in a while that Baker got to call on Solis. The 28-year-old had just returned from the disabled list after recovering from left shoulder inflammation. His seventh inning spot against the Diamondbacks was his first since Aug. 15. After six weeks of rehab, including a setback, Solis is now back in the mix, just in time for the playoffs.
"He said he was ready. We threw him right in the fire," Baker said.
Solis came back firing his fastball at 93 and 94 miles per hour. His first pitch sailed high and out of the zone. He was nervous.
“I would say a few butterflies in there," he said. "But once I got past the first pitch it was all good. Right back to the comfort zone of being on the mound.”
Solis quickly found his command and got three outs on balls put in play. He threw 12 pitches to complete a perfect frame and a bridge to the eighth inning where Shawn Kelley took over.
That seventh inning could be a good place for Solis with Kelley thriving in the setup role and Mark Melancon firmly installed in the ninth. Baker clearly trusts Solis in high leverage spots, as evidenced by his decision to hand him one in his first game back.
“Honestly, I want to be there. I expect to be there, having my name called in later innings in a close game," Solis said.
Solis can get just about anyone out when he's pitching well. But having him in store for the NL Division Series against the Dodgers could prove paramount. Their lineup is potent and it's heavy on left-handers.
Between Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Joc Pederson, the Dodgers not only have balance, they have tons of power from the left side. Those four have a combined 80 homers this season and Solis has never allowed one to a left-handed batter through 97 plate appearances.
Solis saw the Dodgers twice this year - on June 20 and 21 - and struck out three through 1 2/3 innings. He feels like he can be a big help in that series.
"I really hope I’m in there especially with a left-handed dominant lineup like they have and some power as well. I just hope to be on [the playoff roster]" he said.
He doesn't have to worry about that one.
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For the second straight year the Redskins are going to undergo some early–season shuffling in the interior of their offensive line.
Last year left guard Shawn Lauvao was sidelined with an ankle injury after Week 3 and was replaced by Spencer Long. Then after Week 5 center Kory Lichtensteiger went out with a shoulder and neck problem and Josh LeRibeus took his place.
Now Lauvao and Lichtensteiger are out again. Lauvao is week to week with what Jay Gruden described as a “moderate” ankle sprain and Lichtensteiger is on the shelf for at least eight weeks as he went on injured reserve yesterday with a calf strain.
They went with a makeshift lineup for the second half of the Giants game, a lineup that had Trent Williams playing guard for the first time ever. But they have signed some reinforcements and now it will be up to Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan to sort out who will play where against the Browns this week and how they will align them going forward.
The Redskins signed veteran center John Sullivan on Tuesday. Getting him ready to play on Sunday against Cleveland would be a tall task. In addition to learning the plays and blocking schemes, the line calls are very intricate and they take some time to master. Sullivan was out all of last year with back problems so there has to be some rust. However, he was in training camp for the Vikings and he did play some in the preseason before Minnesota released him.
They also moved Vinston Painter from the practice squad to the active roster. The Redskins are his fifth organization since the Broncos drafted him in the sixth round in 2013. He’s a backup for right now but that could change in the weeks ahead.
Arie Kouandjio, who has one NFL snap on his resume, could get his first start since coming to the Redskins in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. It may depend on whether or not Sullivan can pass a crash course on playing center over the next 72 hours or so.
If Sullivan can’t go, they start Long at center, Kouandjio at left guard, and Williams at left tackle. If Sullivan is ready he could go a center with Long at left guard.
They do have the option of putting Williams at left guard again and having Ty Nsekhe fill in at left tackle. But Williams is not getting paid $10.6 million to be a backup guard; he’s one of the best players in the league at one of the most important positions on the offense. If they can’t coach up Kouandjio to start a game they should reconsider both their personnel and their coaching choices.