The Nationals have twice started Chien-Ming Wang and John Lannan, their two candidates to become the fifth starter, on the same day. When their turn in the rotation comes up Thursday, though, the Nationals will not have the luxury of pitching Wang in a minor league game or a split-squad games.

The Nationals decided to give Wang the start against the Yankees, his former team, and have Lannan relieve him and pitch his typical allotment of pitches. The order reflects Wang’s favored status to claim the job, as the Nationals have little choice but to put Wang in the rotation.

Manager Davey Johnson, though, insisted Wang getting the start had to do primarily with health reasons. Wang, who missed more than two years after undergoing surgery to repair a torn shoulder capsule, requires an involved, time-consuming warm-up before he pitches, and so Lannan is better equipped to enter in the middle of a game. Johnson also wanted Wang to start against his old team.

“The two reasons got Chien-Ming in is, it’s the Yankees and coming off an injury year, I want to give him the full whatever-he-goes-through,” Johnson said. “I feel that Lannan can handle it easier starting an inning than Chien-Ming.”