Nationals still deciding on Sunday starter against Brewers

Craig StammenThe Nationals are still on deciding on their starting pitcher for Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, when they will need a sixth starter because of today’s doubleheader. Manager Davey Johnson said he would likely choose between right-handers Craig Stammen and Chien-Ming Wang, depending on how games this week unfold.

In their bullpen, the Nationals have left-hander Zach Duke, a starter who went 15-5 with a 3.51 ERA at Class AAA Syracuse this season. But Johnson wants to start a right-hander against the Brewers, who are powered by right-handed sluggers Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez.  

Johnson also said the Nationals would not make an additional call-up, which rules out Yunesky Maya or Ryan Perry, two right-handers on the 40-man roster with major league experience, making a one-start cameo.

That leaves Stammen and Wang. Stammen served as a starter before this season, when he has become a crucial part of the Nationals’ bullpen as both a long reliever and a set-up man. Wang last pitched in late August, on a rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg.

“It just depends on how much I use the guys out of my ‘pen, how these games go,” Johnson said. “If I work somebody pretty heavy tomorrow, they would have two days off and they could still start. It would be like side work.”

If Stammen is overworked between now and Sunday, the Nationals may have to turn to Wang. But Wang is not exactly an easy choice. As he hasn’t pitched in any games, he has stayed fresh with bullpen sessions. His stamina and arm strength may not allow him to start.

“That’s the concern I have there,” Johnson said. “He probably would be in the mix on that day.”

No matter who makes the start Sunday, it seems likely Johnny Wholestaff may be making an appearance.

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