VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals will have their first split-squad games of spring Saturday, and they've posted their pitching order through those games.
Doug Fister will start tomorrow at home against the Astros, with Tanner Roark piggybacking him. (For those unaware, that's the term used when another starter immediately follows the pitcher who began the spring game. I don't expect Roark to actually get a piggyback ride from Fister.)
Rafael Soriano is also scheduled to pitch tomorrow, which will be the closer's first game appearance this spring.
The Nats' home half of the split-squad game on Saturday, which is against the Braves, will be started by Ross Detwiler. Chris Young will piggyback him, and Tyler Clippard is also scheduled to go that day.
The other split-squad game on Saturday, at Jupiter against the Cardinals, will be started by Taylor Jordan. A.J. Cole will follow him to the mound and make his third appearance of spring that day, as well.
That puts Detwiler and Jordan on the same throwing schedule, with Roark just one day off. Those three are considered the main candidates for the Nats' fifth starter job.
Manager Matt Williams said yesterday that he likely won't make his first round of cuts until after Saturday's split-squad game, at the earliest. There are two main reasons for that - the Nats need to make sure they have enough players on the roster for the two Grapefruit League games on Saturday, and they also have been losing guys to a stomach virus which has been going around the clubhouse.
The last thing Williams wants is to see a player get injured because he was overworked in a meaningless spring game in early March, so the Nats skipper would rather play things safe and make sure he has enough healthy bodies ready to sub in during both Saturday contests.
It has been absolutely pouring here for the last half hour, and checking the radar, it appears a massive storm is sweeping through pretty much the entire state of Florida.
Tonight's Nats game against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista has a 6:05 p.m. scheduled first pitch, so we've got some time for the rain to possibly pass on through, but we'll have to see whether the Champion Stadium field can handle the deluge it's likely getting hit with during the afternoon hours.
If there is a game tonight, here's what the Nats lineup will look like:
2B Anthony Rendon
SS Danny Espinosa
CF Nate McLouth
1B Tyler Moore
3B Will Rhymes
LF Scott Hairston
C Jose Lobaton
DH Brock Peterson
RF Steven Souza Jr.
RHP Jordan Zimmermann