Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams has pointed to yesterday's off-day all spring as the date when he would sort things out in the Nats' rotation and line the starters up for the regular season. Williams told reporters today that he would make the official announcement of the Opening Day starter tonight after the Nationals take on the Houston Astros in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium.
On the mound tonight in the Nats' Spring Training home will be 25-year-old right-hander Taylor Jordan, one of two (okay, okay, three) pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.
No pressure, Taylor. According to a report by the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, Jordan's main competition for the final spot, 27-year-old righty Tanner Roark, threw an impressive game against minor league hitters last night in his latest outing. Jordan makes his third spring start and fifth outing overall tonight, having allowed 16 hits and seven runs through his first 10 IP this spring, over which he's walked no one and struck out 13 batters.
In his first full season back following Tommy John surgery, Jordan worked his way up from High-A Potomac to the majors in 2013, debuting with nine starts in which he was (1-3) with a 3.66 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, 11 walks (1.92 BB/9) and 29 Ks (5.05 K/9) in 51 2/3 IP, finishing his first run in the majors at +0.7 fWAR. Jordan gets another opportunity to state his case for the fifth spot in the rotation tonight against the AL West's Astros.
• Here's the lineup that will back the right-hander up in tonight's game, which is being broadcast live on MASN and MLB.tv:
Does that look like the Nationals' Opening Day lineup to you?
While Matt Williams is waiting until after the game to name the starter for Game 1 of 162, he's written a lineup for tonight's game that looks like what he's talked about running out there on a regular basis in 2014.
Denard Span leading off, Ian Desmond batting second, Ryan Zimmerman third, Jayson Werth fourth, Bryce Harper fifth, Wilson Ramos hitting sixth, Adam LaRoche down in the order a bit from where he's usually hit in the seven hole and Anthony Rendon eighth in the order. Would you make any changes if you got to construct the Nats' lineup?
• Here's the Astros' lineup Taylor Jordan will be facing at the start of tonight's game:
Tonight vs. WSH: Fowler-cf; Altuve-2b; Castro-c; Krauss-lf; Singleton-1b; Hoes-rf; Gonzalez-3b; Villar-ss; Cosart-p. Game time is 5:05 pm CT— Houston Astros (@astros) March 19, 2014
• Game time: As noted above, tonight's game is being broadcast live on MASN and MLB.tv. Did we mention that the game is being shown live on MASN and MLB.tv at 6:05 pm EDT?
Who's watching the Nationals?