Nationals Activate Anibal Sanchez, Transfer Stephen Strasburg To 60-Day IL

The Nationals have activated Aníbal Sánchez from the 60-day injured list, setting him up to start tonight’s game against the Braves. Reliever Mason Thompson was optioned to Triple-A Rochester to free an active roster spot. To create a 40-man roster vacancy, Washington transferred Stephen Strasburg from the 15-day to the 60-day IL.

Sánchez will return to a big league mound for the first time since 2020. The 38-year-old righty sat out all of last season after not finding a contract offer to his liking on the heels of a 6.62 ERA showing during the shortened campaign. He made a comeback effort last offseason, returning to the Nats on a minor league deal. Sánchez made the club out of Spring Training, locking in a $2MM salary in the process, but he suffered a cervical neck impingement just before his first scheduled start.

That ultimately cost him three months of action, but the veteran is set to appear in the big leagues for a 16th year. He’s made three rehab starts with Rochester in recent weeks, topping out at 5 1/3 frames, so he should be capable of working into the middle innings. Sánchez joins a Washington rotation that has by far the league’s worst ERA (5.73) on the season.

Strasburg has contributed just one start to that group. He opened the year on the IL as he continued his rehab from last summer’s thoracic outlet syndrome procedure. The three-time All-Star returned in June, tossing 4 2/3 innings against the Marlins. He felt renewed discomfort in his rib area during a between-starts bullpen session, however, and he was again shut down.

Washington manager Dave Martinez suggested at the time he’d head for further evaluation and the club was concerned he’d had a recurrence of the TOS issues. The club hasn’t provided an update since that point, but he’s now gone over a month without reports of meaningful progress. Today’s IL transfer will officially rule him out for 60 days from his initial placement on June 11. He’ll technically be eligible to return around three weeks from now, but it seems likely he’ll be out well beyond that date given the lack of word on his status.

In another disappointing injury development, Martinez said today that rehabbing reliever Sean Doolittle will meet with doctors after experiencing elbow soreness during a recent bullpen session (via Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post). The veteran southpaw has been out since mid-April with an elbow sprain. He’s already on the 60-day IL. Doolittle, who signed a $1.5MM guarantee during Spring Training, made six scoreless appearances before the injury.

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