VIERA, Fla. — There weren’t many big questions and open competitions for positions coming into spring training for the Nationals.
One of the biggest competitions has been for the fifth starter spot in the rotation. Many believed that Ross Detwiler had the inside track to it, but when Manager Matt Williams announced that Detwiler would start the year in the bullpen, it became clear that the battle was between Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan.
After allowing one run on two hits with five strikeouts against the Mets on Sunday, it was Taylor Jordan’s turn Monday to make his final case.
He certainly didn’t disappoint, going five and two-thirds innings allowing one run on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts against the Marlins.
“He was really good,” Williams said. “Of course, he made a case, he’s pitched well the whole spring for us. It’s going to be a very difficult decision, they’re both pitching really well and it’s a good thing.”
Now the waiting game begins and for Taylor Jordan.
“I’m not really confident in anything, I’m just going to play it by ear. I’m happy to go to Triple-A, it’s still a bump up for me. I’ve never even been to Triple-A. Last year was just a blessing to be up in the big leagues. I don’t expect anything.”
Jordan has bounced back after breaking his ankle in the off season and has thrown 20 and two-thirds innings, allowing nine runs on 24 hits with two walks and 20 strikeouts this spring. He did get off to a slow start, but things changed quickly.
“I just stopped worrying about it,” he said. “I was really nervous on the mound my first couple games. My nerves have gone away now, I don’t really think about it anymore.”
As far as his competition, Roark has had a great spring as well. He’s thrown 13.2 innings allowing five runs on 11 hits with three walks and 11 strikeouts. He also threw five scoreless innings in a minor league game this spring. Who would you choose?
It’s going to be a tough decision for Matt Williams and company.
“It is because they’ve both have pitched really well, what are you gonna do? They’ve answered the bell every time we’ve asked them too, it’s been great.”
As far as a deadline to make a decision: “No deadline as of right now, but we’ll certainly spend a lot of time the next couple days. It’s a great difficult decision to have.”
There has been a lot of talk about the Nationals first four in the rotation and how good they can be, but when you look at the spring that the guys battling for that fifth spot have had, it’s tough not to include them in the conversation as well.
Strasburg’s Final Tuneup
The Nats will face the Mets on Tuesday at Space Coast Stadium, their final home game of the spring, and it will be the final dress rehearsal for opening day starter Stephen Strasburg. Look for him to throw at least six innings as he gets ready to face the Mets next Monday in New York for the opener.
Williams did say that, in all likelihood, whoever wins the fifth spot in the rotation will start the Nats home opener against the Braves on April 4.