The Nationals optioned right-hander J.D. Martin to Triple-A Syracuse this morning, confirming what had been suspected for the last week: The race for the fifth spot in the Nationals' rotation is really between two pitchers - Scott Olsen and Garrett Mock.
Martin started the spring well, but kept getting put in minor league games because the Nationals didn't have enough space for all their starter candidates to pitch.
"We had to sometimes pick some games on the back field. Probably more often than he should have been, he was back there. There's nobody to blame for that," Riggleman said. "We still think we'll be calling on him at some point.'
His 6.30 ERA for the spring is a bit misleading, since he only pitched three games and had a WHIP of 1.1. But the 27-year-old isn't at the top of the Nationals' list, and he'll try to come back to the majors as a mid-season replacement like he did last year.
Olsen would have to be released today if the Nationals are going to save $750,000 by only paying him 45 days' severance; otherwise, they would owe him his full $1 million salary for the season.
He's scheduled to pitch Friday against the Red Sox, and if he's on the roster after today, he'll be with the organization this season.
Mock gave up seven hits and six runs, four of them earned, against the Marlins yesterday.
He's allowed 31 baserunners in 18 2/3 innings, and though he's made a point of trying to be more aggressive with hitters this season, he walked five batters.
Still, if the Nationals decide to cut Olsen, Mock will win the job today by default.