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.
August 4, 2010; 8:05 PM ET
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