The Nationals need a starter for Tuesday’s game to take injured Ross Detwiler’s spot in the rotation and won’t name one until after Monday’s game. There are options. The Nationals could use in-house possibilities, left-hander Zach Duke and right-hander Craig Stammen, or call-up a starter from the minors, such as right-hander Chris Young.
“It’s 50-50 either way,” Manager Davey Johnson said before Monday’s game.
Duke started in Detwiler’s place on May 20 and was backed up by Stammen. Neither has pitched since then. The Nationals, however, could as call up Young, who they re-signed after spring to serve as starting depth. Young started on Sunday but was pulled after one inning. He allowed three runs on three hits and walked two.
Asked if Young was pulled so that he could start on Tuesday if needed, Johnson was coy and smiled: “Read into it what you want.”
After a strong spring, Young, 34, has a 7.88 ERA and 1-2 record in 32 innings for Syracuse. The 6-foot-10 right-hander relies on his unusually high arm angle and location to gets batter out. The Nationals believe he has endured a slow start because after he exercised his opt-out clause he didn’t pitch for nearly two weeks.
Johnson was optimistic, after talking with team medical director Wiemi Douoguih and Dewtiler, that Detwiler could make his next start on Sunday. Because Detwiler’s stint on the disabled list was backdated to May 16, he would be eligible to come off on Thursday.
Johnson left open the possibility that the Nationals could make a roster move on Tuesday to determine the fill-in starter and a subsequent one on Wednesday. They welcomed Xavier Cedeno to the clubhouse on Monday, a left-handed reliever called up after Detwiler landed on the disabled list. Johnson said the Nationals didn’t want to be short an arm on Monday.
The Nationals selected Cedeno, who spent three seasons in the Houston Astros organization, off waivers on April 23 and he is on the 40-man roster. He struggled with the Astros this season, posting an 11.37 ERA in five relief appearances. They designated him for assignment and the Nationals took him.
Cedeno, 26, attributed his struggles early this season to mechanical issues. He wasn’t throwing strikes and his front shoulder was flying open. With Class AAA Syracuse pitching Greg Booker, he improved his mechanical flaw. He struck out 14 batters, walked three and posted a 1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 innings with Syracuse. With the Astros last season, he punched up a 3.77 ERA and held left-handed batters to a .213 average.
“I’m good, my arm feels good and I’m ready to get back,” Cedeno said.
But, depending on which way the Nationals choose to go for Tuesday’s starter, Cedeno could be with the major league team only one day.
“Stay tuned,” Johnson said.