Big outing for Stammen tonight

It seems like every time Craig Stammen pitches, we’re writing something about how it’s a key outing for the right-hander to prove he should stay in the rotation. But in some ways, that’s what he has to do each time out.

It’s life on the edge of the majors, and Stammen, though he’s been pitching better his last two times out, still has a residence there. Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to come back a week from last night, which means Stammen’s spot in the rotation is the one Strasburg would be scheduled to take.

Whether or not that means Stammen would be heading to Triple-A Syracuse for the second time this year, remaining in the rotation or making a transition to the bullpen is unclear. But he’d undoubtedly like the second of those three outcomes, and tonight is his last chance to push the Nationals’ decision in that direction.

He sandwiched a five-inning, three-run outing between two quality starts, and has a 14-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio in his last three starts. But Stammen still has posted back-to-back quality starts on just two occasions this year.

Stammen has faced only two hitters on the Diamondbacks’ roster - Ryan Church and Adam LaRoche - and has just 10 combined plate appearances against them. His ability to get the rest of Arizona’s lineup out tonight could dictate whether he gets another start in the majors next week.