For a few days, Taylor Jordan has been dealing with lower back discomfort, which felt particularly painful after a Wednesday visit to the dentist’s office. After he tossed six strong innings in Atlanta on Friday night and brought his combined major and minor total to 142 innings, Jordan went to receive more treatment on his balky back. The Nationals had been planning to start Jordan at least one more time before his team-prescribed shutdown in his first full season back from 2011 Tommy John surgery.
But as the back discomfort lingered, the Nationals opted to avoid risking any further injury and shut down Jordan. Manager Davey Johnson and General Manager Mike Rizzo talked after Friday’s game and then decided to place Jordan on the 15-day disabled list. His no-decision, the rookie’s ninth major league start, would be his last outing of the 2013 season. It is the Nationals’ policy to cap the innings of young and developing arms, particularly those returning from major surgery.
“There’s no sense chancing him since he was only going to have a limited number of starts the rest of the way,” Johnson said. “… With the back problem, you don’t want a guy coming out there and hurting his arm with something bothering his delivery. So that became a no-brainer then.”
Ross Ohlendorf, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 1 with right shoulder inflammation, will slide into Jordan’s spot in the rotation and will start Wednesday in Chicago against the Cubs. Ohlendorf made his final rehab start on Friday night at Class A Potomac and tossed four innings.
“His arm felt good,” Johnson said. “His velocity was fine. And he has no re-occurrence of the problem he had before.”
Jordan’s rookie season now ends in quiet and abrupt fashion. His drive, talent and stuff propelled him from a little-known minor league pitcher in Class A to Class AA to the majors in one season and he performed admirably. He posted a 3.66 ERA in 51 2/3 major league innings with a 1-3 record, betrayed more often than not by his defense. Jordan has never thrown this much in his life, and both he and the Nationals saw a recent drop-off in some of his stuff. But the right-handed power sinkerballer did well enough in his stint in the majors to merit consideration for a spot in the starting rotation next season.
“No question about it,” Johnson said. “He’s got good stuff, good command. He’s still very young at it, but he showed that he belongs up here.”
Added Johnson later: “I really liked his maturity. He had good poise on the mound, his release times to home plate were really good. His stuff and location got better as he’s been up here, and his slider was his third pitch and it became equally as good as his fastball/change-up. So he’s got a good future up here.”
As a result of placing Jordan on the disabled list, the Nationals recalled Tyler Moore from Class AAA Syracuse. Moore had been tearing up the International League since he was optioned to the minors in July. Over his last 28 games, he is hitting .371 with a .451 on-base percentage, .676 slugging percentage, seven homers and 31 RBI.
With the Nationals, Moore was hitting .151 with only three homers in 113 plate appearances. He struggled in his second season as a bench player before he was demoted for a second time. The first time he came back up he admits he wasn’t ready. This time he feels like he is. “I know it’s a tough job but I’m very confident in myself,” he said. “I just want to help this team.”
With better timing and regular playing time at Syracuse, Moore’s hitting improved dramatically.
“When I was up here, I just felt like the heater was getting on me really hard,” Moore said. “I was chasing a lot of balls in the dirt and up. Obviously I was just late. Me and [Syracuse hitting coach] Troy [Gingrich] just worked down there, it was more on the mental side of the swing than anything. He just told me to start earlier and then slow it down. Once I started slowing down, I felt back to normal. I just took kind of long because I wasn’t really getting consistent at-bats. I’d have one or two games and then I’d feel like it’s kind of coming, and then it would go away. So we kind of put a little something on that until it was able to happen consistently.”
Johnson vowed to get Moore more at-bats than before and would play him in both the outfield and infield. Moore was in Saturday’s starting lineup in place of Adam LaRoche at first base against left-handed starter Mike Minor.
“I’m definitely going to get him in more games with the lack of success of some of our left-handers against left-handed pitching will enable me to get him more in the lineup,” Johnson said. “Early on, I did not have an option on doing that. But the way the guys have played against left-handed pitching it kinda merits that, that they get less playing time.”