Hello, Nationals fans! Spring is officially here, and Opening Day for Major League Baseball is just a few days away – are you just as excited as I am? I have my tickets to go see five Nationals games this season and a new Curly “W” jersey, so I am ready to go!
The Washington Nationals have been having a very productive Spring Training, whittling down their roster (8 more guys left to cut) and working on their weaknesses from 2013 (like holding players on base so they don’t steal so many bases). Stephen Strasburg was just named the starting pitcher for Opening Day (for the third year in a row), and southpaw Ross Detwiler was moved to the bullpen, making that coveted fifth spot in the starting rotation a toss-up between Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark.
Who is going to be the Nationals’ fifth starter? Your guess is as good as mine. Roark is 1-0 in 4 games with a 3.29 ERA. In the 13.2 innings he’s pitched, he’s allowed 11 hits, 5 earned runs and 2 homers, while striking out 11 and walking 3. Comparing apples to oranges, Taylor Jordan is 2-2 in 8 games with a 3.92 ERA. Jordan has twice as many appearances this spring as Roark, so you can’t really compare the two (though it’s interesting to note that Jordan has not allowed a home run yet and has only walked two opponents this spring). Nationals’ manager Matt Williams is in no hurry to make his decision, despite Opening Day being less than a week away.
Here’s where it gets a little complicated. If Jordan gets the starting job, Roark could nab the final bullpen opening. Roark can be a middle reliever – no doubt about that. But if Roark wins the fifth spot on the rotation, Jordan would be sent to Triple-A Syracuse, where he could remain as a starter. But if for some reason, Doug Fister isn’t ready to start the season in the rotation (since he’s been having some elbow inflammation and hasn’t pitched much this spring), Jordan and Roark could both end up with starting positions for the time being.
So as you can see, the pitching situation is still pretty fluid at Nats camp. And speaking of Nats camp, I promise all of you that if I ever make it down to Viera for some Spring Training games, I will give you in-depth coverage. If I ever make it down there, I will blog about the ballpark, the fans, the food – the whole Spring Training experience. Maybe I can get myself down there next year…
OK, enough dreaming for now. It’s time to buckle down and get ready for Opening Day next week. Stay tuned for Matt Williams’ decision on who the fifth starter will be and what his starting lineup will be for the Nationals’ first regular-season game in New York against the Mets. And by gosh, it better be warmer than it is today!