Time is growing short for the Nationals to find a start for left-handers Scott Olsen or Ross Detwiler, though manager Jim Riggleman insists that's still a possibility in the season's waning weeks.
Riggleman said Saturday that the Nationals will stick with their current rotation configuration for one more turn - even through Thursday's scheduled off-day - then do what they can to find a spot for Olsen and Detwiler. An off-day on Thursday, Sept. 30 before Washington begins its final series of the season at Citi Field against the Mets only further complicates things.
"We're going to line up just the way we are this next time through. ... The same order that they were in, we'll go through at least one more time that way," Riggleman said. "Then we'll make necessary adjustments if we have to - if we're not getting to see Detwiler enough or if Olsen's just not getting any work."
Riggleman said Olsen, who hasn't pitched since he tossed four hitless innings Monday against the Mets, remains available out of the bullpen - even though the veteran lefty made no bones about his disdain for working in relief. Olsen may have to settle for a compromise - longer outings instead of match-up situations, if a starting opportunity doesn't present itself.
"Olsen being a starter, you don't want to bring him in for two hitters and get him out of there," Riggleman said. "If we have to do that, we will. But I'd like to get him a situation where he could pitch two or three innings."
A better possibility, at least short-term, might be for Olsen or Detwiler to piggyback on a start by Jordan Zimmermann, though Riggleman said the right-hander isn't on any kind of strict innings limit in his first action since returning from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.
"(Zimmermann) doesn't have that many innings this year and we've been averaging five innings a start with him. I think he'll be able to go through his starts," Riggleman said.
That could change in 2011, however.
"I'm not sure what the number will be, but there'll be a point where we do not want him to get past in terms of innings, and I'm not sure what that number's going to be next year," Riggleman said. "It'll factor in how many he got last year, how many he's getting this year and we'll put a number on it. I'm not sure if it'll be a hard and fast number, but we'll certainly be keeping an eye on it."
(Note: I'm pinch hitting for Ben Goessling through today's game. While there will not be the customary in-game chat, check back frequently during and after the Marlins-Nationals game for all the Nats news.)