By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 25, 2007
DENVER, Aug. 24 -- The Washington Nationals' ever-evolving starting pitching staff took yet another twist Friday, when General Manager Jim Bowden said right-hander Jason Bergmann will join the team next week and, it appears, be poised to take the spot in the rotation currently held by rookie John Lannan.
At the same time, Opening Day starter John Patterson -- who has made only seven starts this year and none since May 5 -- suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from a series of nerve problems in his elbow and forearm. Patterson, who is at the team's complex in Viera, Fla., isn't throwing, and there's no timetable for him to resume, severely diminishing his chances of pitching again this year.
The immediate impact on the major league club, though, will be Bergmann. Out with a hamstring pull suffered July 24 while running the bases in Philadelphia, he threw seven shutout innings, walking none and striking out nine, for Class AAA Columbus on Thursday.
"Tremendous reports," Bowden said. "He's ready to go."
Though Bowden would not say when Bergmann will pitch, it makes sense that he would take Lannan's scheduled turn, which would fall Tuesday. Lannan's most recent start was also Thursday, so their turns fall the same day.
Bowden reiterated what Manager Manny Acta had said a day earlier: that the club will be cautious with Lannan, a 22-year-old who already has thrown more innings this season than he ever has.
"The plan is that we're going to shut him down," Bowden said, though he did not specify whether that meant Lannan was out of the rotation immediately.
"There's been no final decision except to say we're monitoring his innings closely," Bowden said. "We're going to take care of him. We know what the history is of progression of innings pitched, and we want to be careful."
Lannan threw 145 innings between college and pro ball in 2005, and 138 last year He is up to 157 1/3 this season. . . .
Bowden and Acta have discussed a tentative list of players to be called up when rosters expand Sept. 1. Bowden said the call-ups will be "pitching-emphasized."
"It's a necessity," Bowden said.