The Nationals had hoped to have Ross Detwiler back in their rotation coming out of the All-Star break, ready to go after missing some time due to a lower back strain.
Now, barring a surprise development, Detwiler, who last pitched July 3, won't be appearing in a major league game until after the current 11-game homestand.
Detwiler threw a bullpen session today, but it was a brief one. The left-hander threw just 20-25 pitches, and manager Davey Johnson said pitching coach Steve McCatty wasn't really too pleased with how Detwiler looked.
"He's still not quite right, so he's gonna have to wait a couple days and try to get back up on a mound," Johnson said. "Talking to Cat, (Detwiler's) not getting extension and finishing his pitches, so he's going to need to do at least a couple more 'pens here. And he still hasn't been able to do a whole lot of running, which he usually does a lot."
After it became clear that Detwiler wouldn't be ready to take his first turn in the rotation after the break, which comes Tuesday, the Nats set next Friday as their ideal day for Detwiler to come off the DL and return to action. The Nats have a split doubleheader with the Mets on Friday, and if Detwiler could have been ready by then, it would have allowed them to slot him right in for one of those two games instead of needing to turn to a reliever for a spot start, likely Ross Ohlendorf.
Because Detwiler still isn't far enough along in his throwing program, however, Friday is no longer an option.
"It is something we're concerned about," Johnson said. "We're going to definitely not have him rush back out and force him, push him. He's a young man, he'll take the ball and go out there the way he is, but we want him to have no discomfort. He's got too great a future. And I would think he's going to need this whole homestand, trying to get back on a mound just throwing 'pens before he even went out on a rehab assignment."
As a result, Ohlendorf will probably get one of the starts Friday, with Jordan Zimmermann getting the other on normal rest. The Nats can call up a 26th man for the day of the doubleheader, which would allow them to add another bullpen arm, possibly right-hander Erik Davis.
Because of Detwiler's lingering injury and the uncertainty surrounding his future the rest of this season, it's fair to wonder whether the Nats are now more likely to add a starting pitcher from outside the organization via a trade to fill out their rotation. That's not something Johnson feels is necessary, however.
"We've got a young Taylor Jordan in the rotation, who's thrown the ball pretty good," Johnson said. "He's learning to pitch up here. I don't think, no matter what Ross' situation, that we would be in a position to go get somebody for a couple months and give up some prospects. ...
"I thought coming out of the break, Det would be in the rotation. This is kind of a tough pill to swallow, with him. He couldn't even throw a 'pen yesterday and today was not a great one. So we need to get him well."