Chien-Ming Wang to start for Nats Sunday

Davey Johnson has decided on his starter for Sunday’s game against the Brewers. He’s going with Chien-Ming Wang.

Wang pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the Nationals last night, allowing two hits and striking out one.

That performance was enough to get the veteran right-hander the start on Sunday. Johnson said he liked how Wang threw yesterday, and saw good sink on Wang’s two-seam fastball.

“The other guy I was (considering) was (Craig) Stammen, but I really like the role (he’s in),” Johnson said. “He’s been invaluable in the role, and if I started him, I’d lose him two or three days before and probably two or three days after, and I don’t want to do that at this point.

“Chien-Ming, I like who he is, I like what he’s all about and I like his competitiveness. He’s been in big games, and to me, all of these are big games. I think he’ll do us a good job on Sunday.”

The Nats needed a sixth starter for Sunday because of yesterday’s doubleheader, which throws off the rotation alignment.

Yesterday’s appearance was Wang’s first in a major league game since June 30. He’s battled a variety of injuries that have knocked him out of action for much of the season, including a strained hamstring which cost him nearly the first two months of 2012 and a strained hip which he ended up rehabbing for almost all of July and August.

Wang’s numbers on his rehab assignments have been far from exceptional; he’s pitched to a 5.51 ERA over 15 minor league starts spanning 80 innings and has a 6.92 ERA at the big league level this season. He’s battled mechanical issues, which flattened out his sinker and made it much less effective, but Johnson saw improvements last night.

“He was a lot better,” Johnson said. “You saw the ground balls. (The Dodgers have) got some good left-handed hitters, some of them hit the ball pretty hard. Milwaukee doesn’t have the luxury of those kind of left-handed hitters.

“He’s had just a bunch of injuries that really set him back. I really like where he was in the spring. He was going to be my fifth starter over (Ross Detwiler), and with the terrible leg injury and then maybe that led to some mechanical problems. But I like our chances with him on the mound.”

Johnson said that Adam LaRoche got X-rays on the injured knee which led to his removal from last night’s game, and the X-rays came back clean. This knee situation has happened with LaRoche before, Johnson said, and as we can tell by the fact that LaRoche is in tonight’s lineup, it’s not considered real serious.

LaRoche will have the knee wrapped tonight, Johnson said.

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