Taylor Jordan didn’t expect his season would end on Friday night, after he tossed six strong innings to bring his combined major and minor league total to 142 innings. The longest season of his career has worn on him, but he still had enough left in the tank. The Nationals, too, were hoping to start him at least one, or two, more times. But lingering back soreness pushed the Nationals to avoid further injury and cut short his season, which was soon about to end because of a team-mandated shutdown in his first full season back from 2011 Tommy John surgery.
“It was inevitable anyway,” Jordan said.
Standing at his locker on Sunday morning, Jordan did get a few moments to reflect. “I finished,” he said, in his usual matter-of-fact tone. “I made it.”
The right-handed sinkerballer began the season as an unheralded minor league pitcher, invited to big league camp for one start and got shelled. He started at Class A Potomac but then jumped to Class AA Harrisburg and to the majors in one season. And now, after a 3.66 ERA over nine promising major league starts, he is even being considered a candidate to for a spot in the rotation in 2014. The Nationals think highly of the 24-year-old’s poise, stuff and potential.
“I wasn’t expecting to be up here,” he said. “My highest goal was to be here by September, but that was my highest goal. Wasn’t even really necessarily a realistic goal for me. But I got here before the all-star break.”
Jordan does have a goal over the winter and heading into next season: He wants to develop a fourth pitch. He already throws a sinking fastball, slider and change-up. His slider is his third-best pitch, but improved dramatically over his major league stint. He wants, however, to add a cutter to attack left-handed hitters because it breaks hard and late on the batter’s hands.
“Everyone seems to throw one and everyone’s always talking about it,” he said. “‘Oh, he’s throwing a cutter in there.’ No one says that about a sinker, really. They say, ‘Oh, he’s sinking it.’ But it’s not a big deal.”
Maybe another pitch to attack left-handed batters could help. Right-handed batters hit .277 off Jordan over his 51 2/3 major league innings. (In the minors this season, they hit .200 off him.) Left-handers in the majors hit .308 off Jordan. (In the minors, left-handers hit .188 off him.) He has talked with right-handed starter Dan Haren, who mastered a cutter and used it to prolong his career.
Oddly enough, Jordan’s change-up and slider were more effective against right-handers. Although it is a very small sample size, right-handers are hitting .125 off Jordan’s change-up and .156 off his slider. On the other hand, left-handers are hitting .250 off his change-up. (The slider numbers were such a small sample size it is negligible.)
Jordan won’t attack that mission just yet. He will receive continue to receive treatment for a his back injury, unsure of how it was hurt. Assistant General Manager Bryan Minniti told Jordan his season was over after Friday night. One chapter in Jordan’s career is closed. He was already anxious for the next one.
“Hopefully what I did impressed them enough for me to have a chance to be up here next year,” he said.