UPDATE AT 3:43 P.M.: The Nationals have transferred Mock to Triple-A Syracuse, where he’ll pitch on Tuesday.
Garrett Mock - remember him? - made a rehab start for Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday, the next step in his return from the neck surgery he had in April. He gave up four runs in five innings, done in more by an aggressive Erie lineup than anything else, according to his comments to the Patriot-News.
Mock threw 31 pitches in his first four innings, according to the newspaper, and with hitters swinging early against his fastball, he eventually gave up a three-run homer to Cale Iorg in the fifth inning, after Mock had already walked one and given up two hits in the inning.
He’s scheduled to make a couple rehab starts for Triple-A Syracuse, and then the Nationals will have a decision to make on Mock.
By that point, the minor league season will be just about over, so it’s possible they’ll bring him to the majors when rosters expand on Sept. 1 rather than shutting him down. But Mock - at least in his rehab starts - is still priming himself for big innings by walking batters and giving up singles. That got him in trouble on Thursday, and has been the story of his time in the majors, too.
When he returns to the majors, he’ll be much further down on the Nationals’ list of options than he was when he won the final spot in the rotation, almost by default, at the end of camp. The Nationals now have Stephen Strasburg. They have Livan Hernandez still pitching well, John Lannan looking like himself again and Scott Olsen needing innings so the team can make a determination about him. Jordan Zimmermann and Yunesky Maya are waiting, too. And Jason Marquis, teetering on the edge of losing his spot in the rotation, is nonetheless ahead of Mock because the team has no place to put him.
Mock has been in the bullpen before, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Nationals go in that direction with him again. He’s also out of options after this year, and will be 28 next April, so his time with the Nationals could be running out.