Chien-Ming Wang threw 5 2/3 innings at Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday night, allowing three runs, and manager Davey Johnson told reporters in Houston the Nationals plan to have him in their rotation by the end of the month - possibly by the start of their three-game series with the Mets on July 29.
That's something of an odd plan, considering the Nationals still have their opening day rotation intact and all of their starters have pitched well enough to keep a spot. But there are several changes that could be on the way in the next week to open up a spot for Wang.
First, he's currently throwing on the same day as Jordan Zimmermann. It's unlikely that the Nationals would skip Zimmermann's turn in the rotation to get Wang started, but considering they're trying to ration his remaining innings (down to 40 after last night), it's an option. The more likely scenario, though, is that someone gets traded.
The Nationals have been listening to offers for some of their veteran starting pitchers, with Jason Marquis - who's a free agent after the year - likely to draw the most interest. Wang's repertoire is similar to Marquis', except he throws his sinker harder than Marquis does and he'll also mix in a split-fingered fastball from time to time. Knowing they've got a replacement for Marquis might make the Nationals even more willing to deal him.
Gorzelanny - who's questionable for his next start because of a sprained right ankle - could also be dealt, and there's a chance Livan Hernandez gets moved, too. It's hard to see the Nationals not dealing one of their pitchers though, especially since Marquis and Hernandez are due to become free agents. Having Wang finally ready to reach the major leagues gives them a nice way to account for the potential loss in their rotation.