The Washington Times - July 24, 2013, 06:38PM

A day later, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson was still crowing about Taylor Jordan’s start the night before. Johnson heaped praise on the rookie, reiterating how his 7 2/3-inning outing saved a bullpen that was “in shambles,” and again pointing out that, were it not for sloppy defense behind him, Jordan might’ve only allowed one run.

Jordan’s performance was good news for a Nationals team that hasn’t had much of it lately, but it came with a caveat.

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The Nationals have relied on the rookie — who began the season at Single-A Potomac — far more than they likely expected before the season began. With Ross Detwiler visiting a renowned back specialist in Los Angeles and possibly facing an even longer layoff, the Nationals will likely continue to rely on Jordan in the coming days and weeks.

There is just one problem: Jordan is in his first full season after 2011 Tommy John surgery, and as is the Nationals’ well-documented protocol for players returning from that procedure, he is on a workload limit this season.

While Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has said only that the team has general parameters in mind for Jordan, he has already thrown 119 2/3 innings between the major and minor leagues this season.

Johnson said Wednesday he expects Jordan has about 20-30 innings left, which could guide the Nationals’ decision-making process with regard to acquiring a starting pitcher before next week’s July 31 trade deadline, particularly if Detwiler is indeed out longer than originally anticipated.

Either way, Johnson noted that Jordan, who is just 24, is building a strong resume for the Nationals to consider him as a potential part of their rotation for the 2014 season.

“He’s making a great case,” Johnson said. “His command is getting better, his slider, which is his third pitch, is getting a lot better. More consistent.

“Any time you can throw that hard sinker, and as he gets to know the hitters better, he’ll locate them better and more of them will be outs, less of them will be hit hard. He’s made great strides.”