Today's doubleheader, coupled with Nationals manager Davey Johnson's insistence that he won't bring back Friday night starter Tom Gorzelanny on three day' rest, means the Nats will need someone to cover Tuesday night's start against the Chicago Cubs.
The most likely pitcher to make that start is left-hander Ross Detwiler, who is 6-6 with a 4.53 ERA in 16 starts for Triple-A Syracuse. Detwiler was pulled from his last Chiefs start Thursday after working two shutouts against Indianapolis and would line up to make Tuesday's start, a fact Johnson didn't exactly hide in his pregame meeting with reporters before the first game of Saturday's doubleheader.
"He's a possibility for that spot start coming up against the Cubs," Johnson said when asked about Detwiler's early exit from his most recent start.
Detwiler is 2-9 with a 5.18 ERA in 19 career starts with the Nationals, and was considered a possible member of the rotation before last season until a hip injury necessitated surgery in spring training.
He's the most likely candidate because Johnson has seen him pitch in Syracuse earlier this season, because he's already on the 40-man roster and because he'd be working on normal rest. The only real option Johnson has among the current relief corps for the spot start is right-hander Collin Balester, who has started in the past.
But Johnson currently has Balester slotted in as a long reliever.
"(Balester) hasn't been stretched out here lately," Johnson explained. "I held him out of one of the games (in Anaheim) because I have him as a longer guy. I don't want to use him up, maybe an inning or two late when something may happen early and I need to get two or three innings out of him. He's definitely my long man at this point."
Should Detwiler be recalled from Triple-A for Tuesday's start, the Nationals would need to make a roster move. Balester, who has worked 6 1/3 innings since being summoned from Syracuse on June 15, and right-hander Ryan Mattheus, who has a 2.35 ERA in seven relief appearances since being recalled from Triple-A on June 10 when Cole Kimball went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.