In need of a spot starter for Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs, the Nationals are expected to recall left-hander Ross Detwiler from Triple-A Syracuse and reliever Collin Balester is expected to be optioned.
The move had not been officially announced by the club but Balester was packing his bags in the Nationals clubhouse Monday afternoon, presumably in preparation to head back to Syracuse to clear room for Detwiler.
The Nationals were forced into needing an extra starter after a doubleheader Saturday that would have forced them to bring back Friday’s starter Tom Gorzelanny on three days of rest in order to make his next scheduled turn in the rotation. That was not an option, particularly for Gorzelanny who’s already spent one stint on the disabled list this season with elbow inflammation.
Instead the Nationals will turn to Detwiler for the start, giving him his first major league action of the season. Detwiler, who last pitched in the big leagues in September 2010, had a superb spring training and was expected to be the first man up for the Nationals whenever the need arose for a sixth starting pitcher. But a Triple-A season that has been less than exemplary (6-6, 4.53 ERA in 16 starts) forced the Nationals to pass him over for Yunesky Maya the first time they needed a starter.
That will not be the case this time for the former first-round pick, though Detwiler’s stay is expected to be a short one. Nationals manager Davey Johnson reiterated that fact Monday morning when asked about Tuesday’s potential starter — barring anything unexpected with his regular five starters.
That means that Balester’s return to Syracuse could also be short lived. In 13 2/3 innings of work at the major league level this season, Balester has performed well and he was particularly valuable on Sunday when Nationals starter Jason Marquis was knocked out after 1 1/3 innings. Balester gave the team four innings and allowed just two earned runs. He threw 76 pitches — the most he’d thrown in a major league game since 2009 when he was still being used as a starting pitcher.
In 2010, Detwiler was 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA in eight games at the major league level. He has never faced the Chicago Cubs.