National team player Trevor Williams injured. DJ Herz made his MLB debut in a loss to the Mets

DJ Herz entered the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse quietly before Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to the New York Mets. He carried a black backpack over his left shoulder and his gear bag in his right hand — bearing the weight of replacing Trevor Williams in the rotation.

The left-hander’s face turned cherry red as he tried to locate his stall. His eyes darted around the room, his body turned in all directions as he looked for Manager Dave Martinez. Here was a 23-year-old trying to get his nerves under control before his major league debut.

“It was different because it’s a big locker room,” he said after the game. “I was just trying to find my closet that had my shirt in it, and seeing it for the first time was surreal.”

Hires was not expected to arrive at Nationals Park soon. But the Nationals placed Williams on the 15-day injured list with a right flexor strain earlier in the day, interrupting an impressive season for the right-hander, who has a 2.22 ERA after 11 starts.

Williams, 32, was scheduled to play Tuesday night against his former team. Herz, who was recalled from Class AAA Rochester, took his turn instead. He worked the fifth inning and was plated with four runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking two.

“He was a little nervous,” Martinez said. “He was sweating like crazy, but in the big moments, he would settle down a little bit and hit the shots and looked really good.”

Herz got the first opportunity to replace Williams, who said his arm did not recover normally after Thursday’s start, which resulted in a win over Atlanta. Photography did not reveal any structural damage, but it will be closed for two weeks.

Williams, who signed a two-year, $13 million contract in December 2022, lands on the injured list in the midst of the best season of his career.

“I do everything in training sessions to get myself out there to help this team get a boost,” he said. “We played really good baseball, and I’m going to be sad that I won’t be a part of that for the next couple of weeks. But I’m looking forward to attacking this rehab center and trying to get better as quickly as I can.”

“He was playing really well,” Martinez said. “There are some things you can’t control. … It stinks for him because he’s been doing a great job. It stinks for our team because he’s been out there every five days competing and keeping us in ballgames.

Williams joins Josiah Gray, Washington’s Opening Day starter, in the IL. The righty was sidelined in early April with a similar injury. Gray was on his way back. He threw 65 pitches in his third live session on Tuesday. Martinez said the 26-year-old could begin his rehabilitation mission on Sunday.

But with each game, Williams has transformed himself from the fifth option in the rotation into a trade candidate for the rebuilding Patriots (27-33). It is impossible to say what Washington could get in return. But trading Williams may be less likely now, which could cost the Nationals a prospect who could provide value in the future — someone like Hires, who was acquired in July when the Nationals traded Jimmer Candelario to the Chicago Cubs. The 23-year-old lefty, whose Vulcan changeup raised his profile among the minors, had a 3.75 ERA for Rochester this season, his first in Class AAA.

Herz uses a deceptive crossover delivery that can fool hitters even though he does not have above average speed. His success depends on his control — he had 42 strikeouts and 29 walks in nine starts covering 36 innings with the Red Wings. But in his last three games, he has 23 strikeouts while walking just five.

Hurz was driving to Worcester, Massachusetts, when he got a phone call Monday that he was headed to the major leagues. And there he was Tuesday night, facing off against Mets outfielder Francisco Lindor to begin his major league career in front of a handful of family and friends. Lindor doubled, but Herz settled in to strike out Pete Alonso before getting a pair of groundouts.

He loaded the bases in the third but struck out J.D. Martinez with three consecutive fastballs. Hurz didn’t make his first costly error until the fourth – cutting down Harrison Bader who had taken up much of the board. Herz was on the third base line as left fielder Jesse Winker jumped to get the ball. But he couldn’t get it, and Bader’s homer gave the Mets the lead. Herz leaned back, then stood upright and returned to the hill.

Consecutive singles to open the fifth night ended in a Herz night. Both runners came home when Derrick Lue allowed a triple to Starling Marte, who scored on Mark Vento’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. Alonso added a solo homer in the ninth inning for the Mets (26-35).

For the Nationals, Jacob Young had RBI singles in the fifth and ninth innings and Joey Gallo added a single in the seventh. The Nationals got the tying run in the ninth inning against former Washington reliever Red Garrett, but Lane Thomas flied out to end it.

Back in the fifth inning, when Hurz’s outing was officially over, he handed the ball to Martinez and walked off the mound. A deep, heavy breath came at the end. Herz was finally able to relax.

He said: “Then get the first one out of the way.” “Move on to the next and keep moving forward.”

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