Overshadowed for one day by Chien-Ming Wang’s return, the Nationals’ losing streak stretched to a season-high six games Friday night. Under Davey Johnson, they’re now 9-18. “It’s getting to be old hat,” Johnson said. “Isn’t it?”
In order to change that, Johnson suggested changes could be coming to the Nationals’ starting rotation at the trade deadline. With Jason Marquis on the block, Jordan Zimmermann nearing an innings limit and Tom Gorzelanny having moved at least for the time being to the bullpen, the Nationals could have spots open, and Johnson wants to give two prospects a chance to fill them.
Johnson mentioned Tom Milone and Brad Peacock. Milone, the Nationals minor league pitcher of the year last season, has a 3.62 ERA at Class AAA Syracuse and in 117 innings has struck out 120 and walked just 10, the best ratio in the International League. Baseball America ranked Peacock one of the 50 best prospects baseball in baseball. He was recently promoted to Syracuse from Class AA Harrisburg, where he went 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 115 innings.
“We have a couple guys that are knocking on the door,” Johnson said. “Depending on what happens the next couple days, you may see a young arm up here. Right now, the starting pitching, we’ve got to have some improvement there.”
The Nationals’ rotation carried the Nationals as they started the season 40-38, but it has faltered lately. Since Johnson took over June 27, the Nationals’ starting rotation has a 5.05 ERA.
The Nationals also have to sort out their rotation in the short term. Gorzelanny was to start Monday, but he pitched two innings in relief of Chien-Ming Wang on Friday night. He was again ineffective, allowing two runs on three hits. For now, Marquis is listed as the probable starter Saturday, Zimmermann for Sunday.
“There’s so many different options that I can’t even get involved in it, to be honest with you,” Johnson said. “Marquis and Zimmermann, we just have to wait and see.”