The Nationals didn’t want to postpone Monday night’s series opener against the Phillies. They’d have much rather played as scheduled and not waited out a nearly 3-hour rain delay before calling it and rescheduling a day-night doubleheader for Wednesday.
But after waiting through that interminable delay, one that included several rounds of rain but also several rounds of clear skies, the Nats were left with little choice but to postpone. And that means they’ve now got some tricky pitching decisions to make over the rest of the week.
Why didn’t the Nationals want the rainout? Because it means they now must play seven games in six days (assuming no more postponements, of course). And that means they’re going to need to find someone from outside the current big league rotation to make a start at some point this week.
We don’t know yet who that someone will be or when he will pitch. All we know so far is that Patrick Corbin and Jake Arrieta, Monday night’s scheduled starters, will be on the mound at 7:05 p.m. tonight. Then both teams have some decisions to make in advance of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
Teams are allowed to call up a 26th man from the minors for a doubleheader, so the Nationals could take advantage of that opportunity and summon a starter from Triple-A Fresno to pitch one of Wednesday’s games.
They wouldn’t be able to call up Joe Ross, however, because the right-hander started Monday night and tossed five scoreless innings on 57 pitches. He wouldn’t be available to pitch again until the weekend.
So the Nationals could instead call up Kyle McGowin (scheduled to start for Fresno tonight) or Austin Voth (scheduled to start for Fresno on Thursday) to pitch one half of the doubleheader. Or they could just go with two members of the current big league rotation and send both Max Scherzer and Erick Fedde to the mound.
Wednesday was going to be Scherzer’s day all along. Fedde would’ve started tonight but gets bumped in favor of Corbin. If the Nationals want to keep him relatively on schedule, they could simply have Fedde start one of the doubleheader games.
The club then would either start Stephen Strasburg or a call-up Thursday against the Phillies. Either Aníbal Sánchez or Strasburg would then start Friday night’s series opener against the first-place Braves. Saturday’s game would feature either Sánchez or a call-up like Ross, with Corbin then returning to pitch Sunday’s series finale on normal rest.
Suffice it to say there are some decisions to make. We’ve been saying for a while how important this week is for the Nationals to make up ground in the National League East. They’ve now got to figure out how best to line up their rotation for this critical stretch.