MIAMI — The Washington Nationals tentatively set their post-All-Star-break rotation on Saturday, and it looks quite familiar.
With their rotation having gotten a bit jumbled due to injuries and offdays over the course of the season’s first half, the Nationals will revert back to the format they used to open the season.
Stephen Strasburg is expected to pitch the first game after the All-Star break, Friday evening, July 19, in D.C. against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Gio Gonzalez will follow on Saturday and, provided the lingering kink in his neck does not worsen between now and then, Jordan Zimmermann will slot back into the No. 3 spot and start Sunday. Dan Haren is expected to take his turn fourth, pitching Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Who will then assume the No. 5 spot in the Nationals’ rotation, however, remains something of an open question. The team is hopeful that Ross Detwiler, who has been on the disabled list since July 4 with a low back strain, will be healthy and ready to return — but not sure of it at this point.
While Zimmermann, an All-Star, will not pitch in Tuesday’s game, the Nationals could still see one of their starters selected as a replacement for another ineligible starter. Their workload, if they pitch in the game, could affect how Johnson slots his pitchers after the break.
“If something happens,” Johnson said, “I may have to rearrange it.”
Detwiler played catch on Saturday, the first throwing he’s done since going on the disabled list, and Johnson said he reported a bit of soreness where he received an anti-inflammatory injection last weekend but was otherwise OK after the session.
It is unclear, however, how quickly he will progress from here to throwing off a mound and facing hitters.
Johnson speculated that Detwiler may need some sort of rehab assignment or simulated game, simply to see how his back responds after facing hitters in a game-type situation, before the team activates him.
Detwiler is eligible to return on Friday, July 19 but the Nationals do not expect to use him until July 23 at the earliest. If he is not ready, it is likely that Taylor Jordan will remain in the Nationals’ rotation in his place until Detwiler can return.