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Kuhl To Join Nationals’ Rotation If Cavalli Misses Time

Kuhl To Join Nationals' Rotation If Cavalli Misses Time

The Nationals are holding their breath after top prospect Cade Cavalli exited yesterday’s spring start with an elbow issue. He’s undergoing an MRI today, and while there’s no update on his status as of yet, manager Dave Martinez indicated to the Nationals beat this morning that non-roster invitee Chad Kuhl could get the first look in the rotation if the 24-year-old Cavalli is sidelined (Twitter link via Mark Zuckerman of

The veteran Kuhl, 30, has followed up a rough second half in 2022 with a rough showing so far in Grapefruit League play. Through four appearances, he’s pitched 7 1/3 innings and been tagged for seven runs on nine hits (two homers) and four walks with just four strikeouts. Kuhl got out to a strong three-month start with the Rockies last season, capping off that impressive stretch with a shutout of the Dodgers at Coors Field on June 27 — a complete-game gem that dropped his season ERA to 3.49.

Over his next six starts, Kuhl was tagged for 29 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings before hitting the injured list with a hip strain. He returned a bit more than three weeks later and was hit hard through the end of September, when the Rox put him back on the shelf with a triceps strain that ended his season. After that strong start to his 2022 season, he wound up yielding 57 runs in 59 2/3 frames. That nightmarish stretch sent Kuhl’s season ERA soaring to 5.72, although in 439 2/3 prior innings with the Pirates, he’d pitched to a much more respectable 4.44 ERA.

Kuhl isn’t guaranteed anything at the moment after signing a minor league deal with a non-roster invitation to spring training, so the Nats don’t have to formally commit to him just yet. While one might think them to be a candidate to explore the trade market or remnants of free agency for some rotation support, Martinez pushed back on that notion, suggesting he’s comfortable with depth options beyond Kuhl (Twitter link via Andrew Golden of the Washington Post). That’s a group that includes 40-man righties Paolo Espino, Jake Irvin, Joan Adon and Cory Abbott. Non-roster veteran Wily Peralta also has plenty of starting experience in the big leagues, but he’s been working in short stints so far this spring. Both Abbott and Irvin were optioned to Triple-A yesterday, but either could conceivably still factor into the rotation early in the season.

As for the 36-year-old Espino and 24-year-old Adon, both logged significant innings with the Nats in 2022. Both…

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