Here's what we know about the Nationals' rotation after manager Jim Riggleman's press conferences today (FYI: Today's game was called because of rain, and the Nats weren't able to work out a split-squad game with the Mets tomorrow. So their home spring schedule is done):
--The team's starters for the first four games of the year will be John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Craig Stammen and Livan Hernandez.
--Stephen Strasburg isn't likely to pitch Saturday's exhibition against the Red Sox.
Riggleman said the Nationals' fourth and fifth starters haven't been decided yet; he wants to see Livan Hernandez, Scott Olsen, Garrett Mock and J.D. Martin throw again. Hernandez was scheduled to pitch today, before today's game was called due to rain, and he'll throw tomorrow in Viera against minor-leaguers. Mock will make his normal start against the Marlins in Jupiter.
"We're waiting to figure (the fifth starter out)," Riggleman said. "The names are as we mentioned earlier (this morning): Mock, Martin, Olsen. But we do have Livo fixed in there to start."
Olsen's case gets more interesting by the day. He looked out of the rotation picture before Sunday's game, when he allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Braves and pitched as well as he has all spring. Riggleman said he'd like to see Olsen pitch again, though it's unclear whether that will happen since the Nationals have a Wednesday deadline to release Olsen or pay him his full $1 million salary for the season by keeping him.
Mock appeared to have the fourth -- or even the third -- spot in the rotation locked up earlier in camp. But the Nationals weren't thrilled with how he pitched last week in a minor-league game against the Astros, and as Olsen gets stronger, Mock is left fighting with him and Martin for the last spot.
"Stammen and Livo have just thrown better than everybody," Riggleman said. "So it's hard to ignore what they're doing."
The extra time to make a decision could end up costing the Nationals $750,000; they'd only have to pay Olsen 45 days' severance if they released him on March 31st or earlier, and he's not scheduled to pitch again until Friday. It seems more likely at this point he'd go to Class AAA Syracuse if he doesn't make the roster.
As for Strasburg, there'd been talk about him pitching Saturday because his day to start would fall on the same day as the exhibition against the Red Sox. But the value of having him make the start seemed minimal from a baseball perspective, and Riggleman quashed the idea this morning.
"The question has been asked a few times, so once it was asked, I asked it myself," Riggleman said. "I don't think it's going to happen. I have not heard that. Steve McCatty has not heard that. If it does, that's fine. But I have not heard it's going to happen.