Thru 3: Cabrera's struggling (surprise)

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In a shocking development foreseen by … OK, by almost everyone who walked through the gates at Nationals Park tonight, Daniel Cabrera is struggling on the mound.

The erratic right-hander managed to get through his first two innings without allowing a run (though it required an escape job in the first) but you just knew it wasn’t going to last forever. Sure enough, Jimmy Rollins tripled to right in the third. He then scored when Chase Utley doubled to deep right. Utley then moved to third on a wild pitch. And two batters later, Ryan Howard absolutely scorched a hanging 3-1 breaking ball into the grass batter’s eye behind the center-field fence. We’re talking a good 425-430 feet from the plate.

That blast gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead, but the good news from the Nats’ standpoint is that they are facing a shaky rookie pitcher in Andrew Carpenter. Carpenter caught a huge break in the first when he got Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a double play (side note: as good as Zim has been, the guy does still hit into a lot of DPs, yet another similarity between him and Cal Ripken that I’ve noticed over the last four years). Anyways, that GIDP allowed Carpenter to start with a clean slate again and allowed him to put three straight guys on before getting Ronnie Belliard to ground into a harmless 4-3 to end the inning with only one Washington run scoring.

Meanwhile, no word yet on Scott Olsen’s MRI, but we are getting a clearer picture of who may start Monday night against the Pirates. I mentioned earlier that Collin Balester was lined up best out of the Class AAA Syracuse rotation to get the call. What I failed to do was consider Class AA Harrisburg’s rotation.

I’ve since done that, and lo and behold, guess who was supposed to start tonight but was mysteriously skipped? Ross Detwiler. The club’s No. 1 draft pick in 2007 has pitched well for the Senators, with a 3.00 ERA (though 0-3 record) in six outings. He’s already on the 40-man roster. And he could easily pitch Monday on six days’ rest. Even more interesting, Detwiler (or whoever gets the nod on Monday) could remain up here and get a second start next Saturday if Olsen is not able to bounce back.

Here’s a potential rotation alignment for the next week. Everyone would be on normal or extended rest…

Tomorrow vs. Phillies: Jordan Zimmermann

Monday vs. Pirates: Ross Detwiler (or another minor-leaguer)

Tuesday vs. Pirates: Shairon Martis

Wednesday vs. Pirates: John Lannan

Thursday vs. Pirates: Daniel Cabrera

Friday vs. Orioles: Jordan Zimmermann

Saturday vs. Orioles: Ross Detwiler (or another minor-leaguer)

I haven’t been able to confirm that Detwiler will be the guy just yet, but the idea hasn’t been shot down by a couple of Nats people I’ve mentioned it to. Which leads me to believe he’s the likely candidate.

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Mark Zuckerman

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