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Tough decisions coming for Nationals rotation

With Stephen Strasburg scheduled to return from the disabled list Tuesday and at least three others starters set to join the rotation later, the Nationals face difficult decisions with their crowded starting rotation in the coming days and weeks.

"That'll be a tough one," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "We're going to have a lot of tough ones."

Along with Strasburg, Jason Marquis is ready to return to the Nationals rotation; if they wanted to, the Nationals could start him as soon as Saturday. Yunesky Maya, pitching coordinator Spin Williams said, should be ready to pitch in the majors by late August. Jordan Zimmermann, who'll be limited to five innings per start, will be ready a week or so later.

One matter further complicates the situation: Scott Olsen, Tuesday's starter, is about to reach lucrative incentives in his contract. On Tuesday night, he made his 10th start of the season. Olsen will earn $250,000 for both his 11th and 12th start. Every start Olsen makes from there on out, he will earn $100,000 per start. When healthy, Olsen has been one of the most effective Nationals starters, going 3-3 with a 4.12 ERA.

The Nationals, Riggleman said, will resist a six-man rotation. They could send one of their current starters to the bullpen, or they could send down one or two of them to the minors.

"It's tough to go up to six," Riggleman said. "You have some off days and now you actually have guys on their seventh day. That's not what we want to do. You're taking up a spot on the rotation from one of the bullpen guys, so you're short down there. You're kind of robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Tonight's starter, Craig Stammen, lines up to pitch Tuesday, which doesn't necessarily mean Stammen will be the one replaced. Stammen has pitched well lately, allowing five earned runs in 17 1/3 innings over three starts. Still, in spring training the Nationals floated the possibility of using Stammen as a long reliever, which at the very least seems to make him a candidate for a bullpen role.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 4, 2010; 8:05 PM ET
 
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Comments

AK wrote: "Olsen will earn $250,000 for both his 11th and 12th start. Every start Olsen makes from there on out, he will earn $100,000 per start."

Oh. Somehow I think this decision will be easy for Uncle Teddy.

Anybody else feel a shoulder strain coming on?

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | August 4, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

If they bench Olsen for any reasons other than performance based, that would be bush league.

I think that starting Tuesday the rotation should be Stras, Livo, Olsen, Detwiler, Marquis. Let Zimmermann throw a few more abbreviated starts in Syracuse, if possible. Then he can come back to replace Strasburg. No rush on Maya either. Have Lannan go to the pen? Stammen and Balestar draw the short straws.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 4, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

So when Olsen makes his normal starts the rest of the year, I suppose this overboard Lerners-are-cheap cr@p will stop.

Posted by: joebleux | August 4, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Sunshine Bobby is a smart man.

I've been waiting all season for the glut of pitching Kilgore's been telling us about, and despite a four for six homestand I'm just not buying that it's imminent.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 4, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

So when Olsen makes his normal starts the rest of the year, I suppose this overboard Lerners-are-cheap cr@p will stop.

Posted by: joebleux | August 4, 2010 9:37 PM

What? Why?

A few hundred thousand dollars does not make you a free spending owner. The Lerners signed the contract, they should pay it if the player lives up to it.

Our owners will stop being cheap when they provide a payroll commensurate with the revenues they reap - not to mention the prices they charge. And those ain't 23rd in the league.

How on earth is there still a 'Lerners aren't cheap' crowd?

P.S. - sorry if you were just pulling our leg

Posted by: Kev29 | August 4, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

So when Olsen makes his normal starts the rest of the year, I suppose this overboard Lerners-are-cheap cr@p will stop.

Posted by: joebleux

Right on joebleux.
And when Ryan Zim makes one error, he's a bum.
And when Willie Harris hits one homer run, he's a slugger.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 4, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Tough decisions? It's not like we have the Giants pitching staff and we have to decide between their 5 starters. Not counting Strasburg, We have 4 middle of the road guys and a bunch of younger guys who have difficulty going 5 innings. Lannan needs to have a short leash. Martin and Stammen have performed admirably, but they've about maxed out their ability. Balester, Chico and Mock are potential unfulfilled. We need to see what Maya can do, if Detwiler can make the next step, if Zimmermann can be ready for next year and if Marquis can be depended on.

Hopefully your rotation looks like this next year:

Strasburg, Zimmermann, Marquis, Detwiler and Maya. I would love to see Livan, but something tells me he's about tapped out. Wang may never make it back to form.

I think the real change has to occur with the position players. Marrero, Ramos and Espinosa have to get some real time in games in September. We need to see if we can survive without Dunn and if we can once and for all get rid of Kennedy, Harris and Nieves.

Posted by: d-35 | August 5, 2010 2:44 AM | Report abuse

Here's how there is a Lerner's aren't cheap crowed.1) They put out over $450M to bring a team that had been eviscerated by MLB here; 2) They paid a record amount for SS; 3) They didn't dump Dunn's salary for the sake of just dumping it; 4) They stepped up and signed Maya, apparently outbidding others; 5) They drafted Harper w/o fear of what it will cost; 6) They bid a ridiculous amount to try to bring Texiera here; 7) They've built up the entire front office and minor leagues; 8) The only thing you ever hear about them from players (other than perhaps FLop) is that they are first class. Should I go on? I'll ask what I always ask - who is that really would have signed here that you think they should have signed and just how much difference would that have made at this point?

Posted by: truke | August 5, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

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