The Washington Post

The state of the Nationals’ bullpen

Rafael Soriano earned his second save Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Wednesday night’s 10-7 victory exhilarated the Nationals at first. Thursday morning, it forced them into contingency plans for their bullpen, which worked 7 2/3 innings after Jordan Zimmermann fell apart. The Nationals could use a deep, strong start from ace Stephen Strasburg. Failing that, Manager Matt Williams knows how he will adjust.

Should Strasburg falter, Friday’s scheduled starter, Tanner Roark, would be available in long relief. Williams wants to avoid using Ross Detwiler, who pitched an inning Wednesday night and has never thrown on consecutive days in his career, but Detwiler is available, Williams said.

“If we have to, we have the ability to go to Tanner,” Williams said. “We hope that that’s not the case. If we do, he would be available potentially for us, long, if it gets to that. Best-laid plans are that that doesn’t happen. [Rafael Soriano] is good. The back of the bullpen is good. They’re taxed, but they’re good.”

If the Nationals need many innings from their bullpen today, they could add left-hander Xavier Cedeno to the roster. Cedeno, who has struck out three in two scoreless innings at Class AAA Syracuse, traveled to Washington on Thursday as insurance. The Nationals may bring him with them to Atlanta. Williams could not mention Cedeno by name, but he said the Nationals could take an extra pitcher with them to Atlanta.

“We could do that,” Williams said. “It depends how it goes today, what transpires. Hopefully that’s not an issue and we won’t have to worry about it. But we could, yeah. We’d have to make a move in that regard.”

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.
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