BOWIE, Md. - Right-hander Taylor Jordan appears to be the choice for Saturday's Nationals game at the New York Mets, the next opening where the team needs a starter.
Jordan has been more than impressive at the Double-A level with Harrisburg, going 7-0 with a 0.83 ERA in eight starts. He has two shutouts and two complete games with 43 strikeouts to nine walks in 54 innings.
There are many reasons for his success at this level, from his obvious plus stuff to his unique delivery to his incredible ability to focus on the next pitch.
But like many great pitchers, Harrisburg pitching coach Paul Menhart says Jordan makes every pitch look the same, adding to his deception.
"He is able to repeat his delivery," Menhart said. "You will see (his) funky arm action before he goes forward. But what he does well is as he goes forward, he finishes the same. He releases all three pitches out of the same slot. So that is advantageous for him because the hitters don't know what is coming."
Jordan features a fastball, changeup and slider.
"He has got a plus fastball," Menhart said. "He has got a plus changeup. He has a slider has the makings of being a very good pitch. Right now it's adequate enough to get hitters off-balance and if they are geared up for the fastball, it is an effective pitch."
Jordan will go after each side of the plate with his changeup. But Menhart said Jordan's changeup is unique in that it can drop like a curveball.
"He will throw the changeup to the righties and lefties, but that is an equalizer pitch," Menhart said. "He has actually started throwing that slider to lefties, too. Not everything is running away from those lefties. He has got something coming back into them, which they are going to have to be aware of.
"His changeup isn't the prototypical changeup. His arm action allows him to release this ball, and for some reason, I can't explain why, it has split action. Some guys that throw changeups will have that fade to it. It actually has a drop to it if he is throwing it really well."
Menhart said also look for Jordan to try to get the hitters to go for stuff up in the zone.
"He throws his sinker well, he gets ground balls with that thing," Menhart said. "He is able to spot that up. He will pop that four-seamer on occasion. He has started flirting around with raising up a fastball or two or at 1-2, to try to get a little chase up in the zone."
As Menhart told us last week, Jordan has the keen mental focus to not get rattled, which is rare at this level. Jordan continually takes each at-bat one pitch at a time.
"The biggest thing that he does is that he has an unreal ability to slow the game down," Menhart said. "Any situation that comes up he looks at as a new challenge. He looks at a missed call, a good pitch, anything good, bad or indifferent, he is ready to make his next pitch. That is the only thing he focuses on. That is a special gift that he has."
Jordan is another great story of a kid who battled past Tommy John surgery and then really got going this season. He was quickly promoted from high Single-A Potomac to Harrisburg, and has a 9-1 record with a 1.00 ERA in 14 starts between the two levels. Menhart said he saw promise from Jordan even before he had to go under the knife.
"I saw it back before this surgery that this kid had something special, only because I like a little funk," Menhart said. "I love guys that have something atypical about them. That arm action and his ability to release the ball at the same spot.
"I fell in love with him the first time I saw him throw. If he ever really gets command of the baseball, he could be something really special, because he is so funky."
And the bottom line is Menhart believes Jordan's stuff will work for the Nationals.
"I think it will. I think it will play in the majors," Menhart said.