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Scott Olsen to the bullpen, Yunesky Maya likely to debut Tuesday [UPDATED]

The Nationals will move left-hander Scott Olsen to the bullpen and officially leaving vacant their scheduled starting pitcher for Olsen's turn, making it likely Cuban right-hander Yunesky Maya will make his major league debut Tuesday at Nationals Park against the New York Mets.

Manager Jim Riggleman did not announce Maya as the starter, but "I have pretty good idea who it's going to be," he said. "There are going to be some other people joining us that will make that start.

Maya made his final start at Class AAA Syracuse on Thursday night, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. In his two starts at Syracuse, Maya has allowed one run, eight hits and five walks while striking out nine in 10 1/3 innings. The Nationals signed Maya, 28, this summer to a four-year, $6 million contract and see him as a fixture in their future rotation.

"He's a starter for us," General Manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday. "When he gets here, it will be like his second start out of spring training."

Olsen, 26, will continue a trying season by pitching as a reliever for the first time since his rookie season, when he made only one appearance out of the bullpen. Olsen, in his second season with the Nationals, returned this year from major shoulder surgery he underwent last May. After beginning the season in the minors, he became a reliable, sometimes dominant member of the Nationals before suffering a setback and missing more than two months on the disabled list.

"We want to see some other people start," Riggleman said. "We have a month left in the season to see if he can acclimate himself to the bullpen as well. But we do have some other guys who are going to be joining us in the next few days."

Olsen may still make a few starts in the final month of the season, and the Nationals will continue to evaluate his place in the organization for the remainder of the season. Olsen signed a one-year contract after the Nationals did not tender him a contract last offseason, and Olsen is eligible for arbitration again this year.

"His shoulder got tender," Riggleman said. "He's had good games and not so good. As we move forward, we've got to make an evaluation. Is he a starter for us? Is he a reliever? Is he part of the rotation? We just don't know yet. One way we will get a little information is to watch some other people start, see where they fit in."

The Nationals informed Olsen yesterday he would be pitching out of the bullpen in the wake of his disastrous start against the Marlins on Wednesday in which he allowed eight runs while recording five outs. Olsen is 1-6 with an 8.72 ERA since he came back from the disabled list on July 29.

"I don't think the injury has affected the way he's pitched," Riggleman said. "He's completely healthy. He's had good ballgames. And he's had some ballgames where he wasn't locating the ball low, and they got him. But he's the same guy. When he's got the ball down, he works fast, he's aggressive. He knows how to pitch. He's a pro. But when he doesn't get the ball down, he's not a strikeout guy and the ball's getting squared up good."

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 4, 2010; 3:40 PM ET
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Next: Adam Dunn sits with sore hamstring


Had to happen.

Posted by: marathoner | September 4, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Cubs win...They're singing the song. There is a young lady, in the bleachers wearing a jersey that says: Nationals.

We're sneaking up on everyone.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | September 4, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Probably not what Olsen (or his agent) wants to hear, but given the similar demotion of Stammen earlier this season, not unprecidented.

The team really needs a pair of solid starts from Lannan & Marquis over the next two days just to get things right.

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

With this probable move, Olsen is most likely a 'dead man walking', imo. I've been a fan of Olsen to-date, but it may just be time to move on. He's unlikely to survive in the bullpen, given his arsenal.

Maya will get four to six more starts this year, beginning 9/6, plus ST in 2011 to prove he belongs in the rotation; If he's among the top-5 at that point, good play by Rizzo for the signing.

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

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