Tomorrow, the Nationals will call up Livan Hernandez to be their fifth starter, and will have to clear a spot on their 25-man roster for him. Who they'll take off the roster remains an unknown, and there are still several ways the Nationals could go with the move.
They've been carrying eight relievers so far this season, and the expectation has been they would send one of the relievers to Triple-A Syracuse. Jesse English has two options left, but two relievers who are out of options - Tyler Walker and Jason Bergmann - could also be candidates for demotion.
Walker allowed three runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings last night against the Mets, and Bergmann, who also allowed a run in 2/3 of an inning on Friday, has given up runs in both of his appearances, also allowing three inherited runners to score off Placido Polanco's grand slam on Opening Day.
"Mike and I will talk about that, (pitching coach) Steve McCatty, we'll be in here later in the day," Riggleman said. "We've got two or three options there. We've just got to nail down a decision. It's never an easy decision."
Another, albeit rasher option, would be to send starter Garrett Mock to the minors. Mock won the last starting job in the Nationals' rotation over Scott Olsen out of spring training, but needed 84 pitches to get through 3 1/3 innings last night. McCatty had some strong words about Mock's performance.
"Whatever I say sounds like it's bad, and I'm not knocking him, but you have to find a way to get through situations," McCatty said. "He said, 'My hands are dry.' I said, 'Hey, you've got to find a way.' It seems to me (Miguel) Batista did fine. (Mike) Pelfrey, he did fine. I don't like hearing stuff like that because it makes it sound like an excuse. Been there, done that, you find a way to get through it. You're in the big le
agues. You've got to find a way. Everything's not going to be perfect. It's not going to be 85 degrees every day, and the wind's blowing in. You find a way to deal with situations."
Here's how the Nationals could make a Mock move work: Because of Tuesday's off-day, they wouldn't need a fifth starter again until next Sunday. They could pitch John Lannan (who starts today), Hernandez, Jason Marquis and Craig Stammen on regular rest until then. Now, rain in Philadelphia on Monday would scuttle that plan, which might be why the Nationals wouldn't chance demoting Mock (since they couldn't call him back up for another 10 days). But it would give them more time to evaluate their eight relievers while swapping out Mock for a different pitcher.