Friday evening at Nationals Park will mark a monumental occasion for right-hander Chien-Ming Wang. He will pitch in a major league game for the first time in more than two years and do so for an organization that has invested $3 million in his health over the past two seasons.
That much is sure. What happens to the rest of the rotation, isn’t clear. However, every indication is that left-hander Tom Gorzelanny will find himself out of the rotation and in the bullpen.
That’s where he’ll be Friday, though he’s remained on his regular starter’s schedule as a contingency plan for Wang. Right-hander Jason Marquis is expected to start Saturday, however, so it doesn’t appear as though there will be an immediate spot for Gorzelanny in the rotation.
“It just so happens that’s [Gorzelanny’s] spot in the rotation,” said manager Davey Johnson, noting he’d discussed the plan with the left-hander. “I want him to do just like he was starting and be in reserve in case something unforeseen comes up with Chien-Ming. I like having a backup plan.”
The Nationals will have to make a move to clear space on the 25-man roster for Wang, who will be recalled from his rehab assignment Tuesday night but not activated until Friday. The most likely way they’ll do that will be to option Ross Detwiler back to the minor leagues, but there is one other way they could rearrange their roster.
“The other variable in there is we don’t know what’s going to transpire during the trade deadline,” Johnson said, alluding to other teams’ potential interest in veteran starters Marquis and Livan Hernandez.
Johnson said the situation will be sorted out by Friday afternoon.
“I have a degree in mathematics that tells me we’re going to be one man over the limit unless we do something,” Johnson said with a smile.
Barring a trade, Detwiler and Gorzelanny would essentially be serving the same role as a long reliever. Johnson had been attempting to convert Detwiler into a long reliever by keeping him on a starter’s schedule out of the bullpen since he was called up for a spot start July 5.
Gorzelanny has pitched a combined five innings in his past two starts, though one was injury shortened, and allowed seven earned runs. Saturday night in Los Angeles, Gorzelanny didn’t last past the third inning and gave up five earned runs on eight hits and a walk. He has relieved before, tossing 23 1/3 career innings with a 5.40 ERA, 14 walks and 19 strikeouts.
He hasn’t worked in relief this season but did so in six games in 2010 for the Chicago Cubs, facing 29 batters in 6 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run, walking six, striking out seven and giving up one home run.
After his last start, Gorzelanny called his performance “just awful pitching,” and was out in the outfield at Dodger Stadium on Sunday morning working with pitching coach Steve McCatty.
NOTES: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was presented with the team’s Heart & Hustle award before Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Marlins. Desmond was selected by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association as the Nationals representative for the league-wide award which honors “active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit, and tradition of the game.” The MLB winner will be announced in November.