The Nationals will option right-handed starter Taylor Jordan to Class AAA Syracuse, according to a person familiar with the move, in the corresponding move for the call-up of right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus. The Post first reported Monday night that Mattheus was on his way to Houston to join the Nationals but the other move was not yet known.
The Nationals have not yet officially announced any roster moves. The expected moves, however, allow the Nationals to add a fresh and experienced arm to the bullpen while paving the way for Doug Fister’s return. Fister is expected to make one more rehab start on Friday before he returns to the Nationals from his lat muscle strain. Fister has yet to throw five innings in a game this season and Manager Matt Williams has said he wants the right-handed starter to be stretched out before he returns.
Jordan, 25, has mostly struggled in his five starts this season. He posted a 5.61 ERA over 25 2/3 innings and his command was often shaky. Even though his battle with the flu in Sunday’s start explained part of his drop in velocity, Jordan hasn’t thrown his sinking fastball as hard this season as his breakout stint with the Nationals last summer.
As he competed with Tanner Roark for the fifth starter’s spot during spring training, Jordan said he would view an assignment to pitch at Class AAA Syracuse as a promotion of sorts. He came to the majors straight from Class AA Harrisburg, after fewer than 100 innings above Low-A Hagerstown. While dealing with a fever and headache, Jordan was pulled after four innings and his fastball sat in the mid-80s.
It is unclear, however, what will happen to the rotation. With two off days this week, the Nationals could skip what would have been Jordan’s spot. But to keep everyone on five days rest, the Nationals would need a starter for the May 6 home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann could start Sunday and Monday, respectively. Fister is expected to make a final rehab start this Friday, which means he wouldn’t be ready to pitch again until May 7. The Nationals could use long reliever Ross Detwiler or call up Blake Treinen from Syracuse to make that start.
Mattheus started the season at Class AAA Syracuse after he suffered a chest injury early in spring training and never recovered in time to begin the season at full stamina. In nine appearances at Syracuse, Mattheus has a 5.40 ERA with eight strikeouts, 11 hits and three walks over 10 innings. Regardless of his performance in April, Mattheus offers as much experience as any Syracuse reliever and is on the 40-man roster. He is also a fresh arm; the Nationals used five relievers in Sunday’s loss.