Which National will make room for Livan Hernandez?
Sometime this afternoon, Livan Hernandez will fly from Florida to New York, his arrival and subsequent start tomorrow signaling the end, for now, of some National's major league tenure. Almost certainly, that National will be one of their eight relievers.
Which player to send down will be decided by "probably recent performance as much as anything," Manager Jim Riggleman said. Riggleman will meet with pitching coach Steve McCatty and General Manager Mike Rizzo today and give their decision after the game.
The Nationals are considering two or three options. The four pitchers ingrained in the bullpen are Matt Capps, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard, meaning the odd man out will probably be Miguel Batista, Jesse English, Tyler Walker or Jason Bergmann. Only Bergmann is out of options, meaning he would have to clear waivers in order for the Nationals to keep him in their organization.
It would come as a surprise, but the Nationals could feasibly go in another direction. They could choose to keep eight relievers by sending Garrett Mock, who struggled last night, to Class AAA Syracuse. They would not need a fifth starter until next Sunday, at which point the Nationals would have to call up one of the many Syracuse pitchers who has started in the majors before, most likely Scott Olsen.
While it's a possibility, it seems unlikely the Nationals would do that to Mock. Rizzo stated when the Nats chose Mock as their final starter that they needed to find out if Mock could take his major league stuff and become a major league pitcher. While it didn't happen this spring and certainly didn't happen last night, the Nationals probably owe to themselves and to Mock to give him more time.
How much, though, is up for discussion.
"That's a tough question," Riggleman said. "He didn't have a good spring. You don't want to make too many rash judgments on his first outing of the year. But you back into where Garrett just didn't throw the ball like he's capable of through the spring. There's certainly some concern. What we do about it, I'm not sure.
"I know Garrett has just got to get groundballs. He's not going to overpower hitters with velocity. He's got a pretty good breaking ball, and he's got a good sinker. It's just happening. He's just not getting groundballs."
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Mike Morse said his right calf is getting "close" to 100 percent, but he still won't be in the starting lineup for a few days, Riggleman said. Morse can pinch hit, but if he reached base he would require a pinch runner. The Nationals have not reached the point where they've even considered putting Morse on the disabled list.
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