Right-hander Jason Marquis pitched six innings for Triple-A Syracuse last night, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk while striking out four. If he's not ready to go after elbow surgery in May, he's a start away from being there, at most.
The question then becomes: What do the Nationals do to get him in the rotation? They can talk about leaving the rotation the way it is until a pitcher slips up, but I can't see them leaving a veteran making $7.5 million in the minors for long. They need to see how Marquis looks in the big leagues post-surgery. And if there's any trade value for him this winter (which seems a little unlikely), leaving him in the minors isn't going to help.
So who would go to make room for Marquis? Craig Stammen would be the logical choice, especially if he has a bad start tomorrow. Stammen's next start wouldn't be until next Tuesday, though, so waiting until the team gets back home to put Marquis in the rotation would take him off his throwing schedule (his day to throw would be Saturday). The Nationals could pitch Marquis in Los Angeles on Sunday and bump Scott Olsen back to Tuesday.
Things will get interesting, though, if Stammen pitches well. He was sharp in his last start and solid in the one before that, and seems to be turning a corner. The Nationals are going to have to make a few of these decisions in the next two months, none of them involving a pitcher in whom the Nationals have invested as much financially as Marquis.
We should hear more about the plans for Marquis later today.