PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Nationals made another round of cuts this morning, sending six players down to leave 37 healthy players in big league camp with 12 days to go before the team heads north.
Four pitchers were optioned to Triple-A Rochester (right-handers Cory Abbott, Jake Irvin and Jordan Weems, left-hander Matt Cronin), one pitcher was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg (right-hander Jackson Rutledge) and one player (catcher Drew Millas) was reassigned to minor league camp.
Abbott and Irvin will open the season in Rochester’s rotation, according to manager Davey Martinez, and there’s ample reason to believe both will get a chance to start for the Nationals at some point this season. Abbott, 27, started nine games and made seven relief appearances in the majors last year, going 0-5 with a 5.65 ERA and 1.438 WHIP. Irvin, 26, will be pitching at Triple-A for the first time after producing a 3.83 ERA and 1.142 WHIP in 24 combined starts at Single-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg in 2022.
Rutledge, 23, will be making his Double-A debut after going 8-6 with a 4.90 ERA and 1.387 WHIP in 20 starts for low Single-A Fredericksburg last season. Though he’s skipping high Single-A, the Nationals believe the 2019 first round pick is ready.
“He’s matured a lot,” Martinez said. “His control of the fastball is a lot better. Secondary pitches are a lot better. I think the bump to Double-A will be good for him. He needs to start getting challenged a little bit, but I saw a really big improvement this spring with his command, his ability to throw strikes. Why not? Let’s push these guys a little bit.”