A look at Taylor Jordan and the open rotation spot

Before I dive into things this morning, some brief housekeeping notes.

I spent nearly 10 hours at jury selection yesterday (what a fun process that was!) and was eventually chosen to serve for a trial starting today. The trial is scheduled to last two days, so I might be out of action through Wednesday, although I’m hoping things move swiftly and I’m able to make my way to Nats Park for tomorrow’s game.

Regardless, Byron Kerr will have you covered on all Nationals updates today, as I’ll be out of commission. I’ll do my best to eventually get to comments on the blog, but for once, I’ll be sans laptop/cell phone most of the day. I hope I don’t get the shakes from the withdrawal.

As of this morning, the Nationals still have not officially placed Dan Haren on the disabled list, and they’ve yet to announce the corresponding roster move that will fill out their 25-man roster.

Chances are it’ll be Taylor Jordan getting the call-up from Double-A Harrisburg to fill Haren’s spot in the rotation.

At least temporarily.

Jordan has been tremendous this season, posting a 1.00 ERA in 15 games split between high Single-A Potomac and Harrisburg. Since getting the bump up to Double-A in mid-May, Jordan has a ridiculous 0.83 ERA over nine games.

In those nine games, he has two shutouts, hasn’t surrendered more than a single earned run in any appearance, is allowing opposing hitters a batting average of just .194 and has posted 43 strikeouts to just nine walks over 54 innings.

Yeah, the numbers have been decent.

Jordan, a 24-year-old right-hander who was taken by the Nats in the ninth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Brevard (Fla.) Community College, has moved very quickly over the last two seasons. He started the 2012 campaign at short-season Single-A Auburn, and now is the leading candidate to get Saturday’s start for the Nationals in New York.

Jordan went to high school in Merritt Island, Fla., just north of the Nationals’ spring training home in Viera.

That start would be on normal rest for Jordan, who pitched for Harrisburg last night, allowing one run over five innings in a 7-1 Senators win. Because of yesterday’s off-day, the Nats can have Ross Detwiler start Friday (which would’ve been Haren’s spot) on normal rest, and then hand the ball to Haren’s replacement on Saturday.

Moving Detwiler up a day also will allow manager Davey Johnson to break up his left-handed starters. He had been going with Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez in back-to-back games since Detwiler came off the DL three starts ago, but now can put a right-hander in between his two southpaws, making it tougher on opposing teams’ hitters to get comfortable during a series.

The Nats have shown that they have no problem calling up a starter from Double-A if they feel he’s ready and is their best option. Nathan Karns got a medium-sized cup of coffee with the Nats a month ago, coming up from Harrisburg and making three big league starts before heading back down. Like Jordan, Karns had no experience above high Single-A coming into this season.

Karns got hit around a little bit in the majors, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the same happen to Jordan, given his lack of experience at the high levels of the minors. Jordan has torn up the Carolina and Eastern Leagues, but this obviously is a different animal.

The Nationals have been calling teams asking for starting pitching, suggesting they’re looking for someone more established for the longer term. Chris Young is still on the DL at Triple-A Syracuse and has a 7.88 ERA this season, Karns and Jordan are unproven, and the Nats would prefer to keep Ross Ohlendorf in the bullpen for the time being. They’re short on starting pitching depth within the organization, and if they want to make a run at a playoff spot, they’ll need more from the back of the rotation.

I’m hearing we shouldn’t expect the Nats to make a big splash and land one of the higher-profile names on the market, like a Cliff Lee (not that the Phillies would be thrilled to deal Lee within the division anyway), but there are a few other options that might intrigue the Nats, like Matt Garza, Bud Norris or Yovani Gallardo.

The price for these pitchers will be high, given the number of teams still in the playoff picture and the constant need for starting pitching. But the Nats are looking around, seeing what the market is like as we get close to the final month of the non-waiver trading period.

For now, Jordan appears likely to get his shot. We’ll see if his numbers at Harrisburg can translate up a couple levels and give the Nats a boost, at least for the short-term.

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