It has been well documented as the Washington Nationals‘ Spring Training has progressed. Many believed that there would be intense three-man competition for the vacant fifth starter spot, which was between Ross Detwiler, Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan. Detwiler has since been demoted to the bullpen, which is believed to be a permanent switch, after a 6.43 ERA in three spring starts. Detwiler, as always, is a one-pitch pitcher who loves to pound the zone with fastballs. Unfortunately, as a starter that is a recipe for short starts and eventual disaster. Roark has not been much better, posting a 4.50 ERA, and his versatility may be better served in the bullpen. Needless to say, it all is down to Jordan as it has become his spot to lose.
Jordan has pitched consistently well all spring, mixing pitches well and doing exactly what the Nationals want to see: generate ground balls. Sure, Jordan’s ERA is a little high at 4.80, but it’s the spring — numbers are inflated, and it comes down to what is displayed during Jordan’s starts, not on his stat line. Jordan came up in 2013 and plugged into the rotation immediately before he was shut down due to a post Tommy John innings limit. Roark came in after being a reliever, and that kind of versatility could be exactly what the Nationals want in their bullpen.
Detwiler going to the bullpen could also mean Matt Williams either does not like the lefties currently in camp or that he wants to carry three lefties and likes Detwiler coming out of the bullpen as a third lefty. Again, versatility is always a positive, and Roark and Detwiler provide too much to be restricted to only the rotation. For Jordan, however, it all comes down to staying healthy, and the spot will be his to lose.