Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson has expressed concerns about right-hander Ross Ohlendorf’s stamina, but that aside the Nationals decided to go with Ohlendorf at least one more turn through their rotation. Ohlendorf will start Sunday night against the New York Mets on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
The decision to start Ohlendorf was essentially made Thursday night when Tanner Roark was tasked with the final two innings in the Nationals’ 9-0 victory over the Marins. Roark used just 13 pitches to do the job.
Stephen Strasburg will start on Monday on his regular turn against the Phillies.
That doesn’t mean that Roark, who has impressed out of the bullpen, won’t still get a chance to start games at the major league level this season.
“I still like to give him a shot at starting,” Johnson said. “I like the way he goes about his business. But it’s like (pitching coach Steve McCatty) said, ‘Shoot, 13 pitches, he can probably go today.’ He might be more suited for being in the ‘pen than Ohlendorf could be.”
The Nationals have been pleased with the work Ohlendorf has done since joining the major league team in June, but in his past two outings he has appeared to tire after five innings or so. Because of that, Johnson had said the team might opt to swap he and Roark, allowing the rookie a few starts before the end of the season as a means to evaluate him for next season.
That desire has not changed, though.
“You want to give him the opportunity to see how that plays forward going into next year,” Johnson said. “Would he be a candidate to start? You’d need to have a good read on as many good young pitchers as you can going forward. You never know about (Ross Detwiler), (Taylor Jordan). You need to have more than just five. We need to give him an opportunity to step up.”
Roark may be a candidate to swap with Ohlendorf the next time his spot comes up in the rotation, on Sept. 7 in Miami.
As for Detwiler, Johnson said he is close to getting on a mound for the first time since July 3 and the hope now is that he will be able to pitch in major league games before the season is out.
“Hopefully he’ll get enough mound work to maybe even do some throwing in a game up here,” Johnson said. “It’d be my preference to see him, maybe use him like, pitching an inning, then give him four days rest, let him pitch another inning. Just test him to see how that back’s going to hold up. The bigger the sample, the more reliable for you to know how he’s going to be next year. He’s probably still going to have to go to the instructional league and throw something down there.”