VIERA - When you talk with Nationals' manager Jim Riggleman about his potential rotation, it's perfectly apparent that he beiieves that Garrett Mock is a very strong contender for a spot.
Not that Riggleman will guarantee Mock a spot; he's non-committal on that possibility, and Mock doesn't feel like he's been given any guarantees. Tonight's performance against Atlanta, while not without flaws, won't hurt his chances.
Mock had a somewhat rocky first ining, but settled down after that and finished strong. He relied more on off-speed deliveries than we're used to seeing. He chalked that up to catcher Pudge Rodriguez wanting him to focus on spotting those pitches around the zone.
"Pudge kept calling for my off-speed pitches and moved the glove to the other side of the plate after each one," Mock said. "It worked out pretty well."
As for his performance gaining him a foothold on a rotation spot, Mock shook his head. "Nothing I did tonight tells me I've accomplished that. I've got a lot to learn."
My guess: Mock starts the year with the third slot in the rotation, subject to change if the club opts to take Stephen Strasburg north with the big club.