Taylor Jordan was lifted from this afternoon's start against the San Diego Padres after just four innings and 63 pitches. The Nationals' 25-year-old right-hander limited the visiting Padres to just three hits, two walks and one earned run while he was on the mound, but his velocity was down even more than it has been early this season, so Nats' skipper Matt Williams was asked after the game if there was anything wrong with the '09 9th Round pick?
"Yeah, he showed up this morning runner a fever," Williams said. "I don't know if it's the flu or what. There was some question this morning as to whether he would even start, but we gave him a bag of fluids and he ate something this morning, but the fastball velocity was way down, weak out there, so he gave us what he could give us today."
What Jordan could give the Nationals was four innings. He left the game with the score tied at 1-1, but San Diego added a run on a sac fly with Ross Detwiler on the mound in Nationals Park in the fifth and two more on bases-loaded walks in the sixth as right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett struggled to throw strikes.
"Just a lack of command," Williams said when asked about Detwiler and Barrett's issues.
Williams also talked about the trouble he's encountered with trying to get Detwiler extra work.
"It's difficult with Detwiler," he said. "Because we try to get him in situations where he can go one-plus, but it's been sporadic. So we'll look to get him in more often, on a more regular basis. But with the game today, we've got to get him in there because we need multiple innings. We need long in case we get back in the game. We were in the game at the time, in case we got back we needed long, so... and then Aaron came in and lost command."
Getting back to the rotation. There has been plenty of speculation about what the future holds for Jordan, who has a 5.61 ERA, a 4.45 FIP, eight walks (2.81 BB/9) and 17 Ks (5.96 K/9) in five starts and 25 2/3 IP so far this season.
After a meteoric rise from High-A Potomac to Double-A Harrisburg and the majors last season, Jordan's struggled early this year and there's been a noticeable drop in his fastball velocity. His two-seam fastball, which sat at an average velocity of 91.4 mph last season is down to 89.3 mph so far in 2014 and his four-seam fastball is down from 92.3 mph to 90 mph.
The velocity was down even more today, but Williams said it was more about Jordan being sick this afternoon.
"Today it was just... [he was] weak and didn't feel well at all today."
As for whether the righty will be healthy enough to make his next start when his turn in the rotation comes around, Williams said he wasn't sure right now.
"Don't know. We have to see how he is post-today. But he was running a fever this morning. We know that."
The Nats' skipper did say, however, that aside from giving all the starters a day off, there weren't any changes planned for the rotation.
"As of right now, we're giving everybody an extra day," Williams explained. "So, with the off days, we can do that. So right now there's no change. Today he just didn't feel well. So, for the first three innings, he used his changeup a lot and got them to roll over and pitched his way through it but we couldn't let him go any further. He just wasn't feeling well at all."
Jordan and 30-year-old right-hander Doug Fister are lined up and starting on the same schedule every five days right now, of course, so there will be a decision down the line somewhere if Fister comes through his second rehab start without any issues after making his first start in competitive action this afternoon with the High-A Potomac Nationals.
Williams received positive reports on Fister's outing.
"Four innings,  pitches," he said. "Felt good. Finished up with a total of 65 in the bullpen after his fourth. But he came out of it great. Looks to go five and up to 80 next time if needed. And then we'll see where he's at. But today was good."
Williams was asked if he thought Fister would be ready to return to the majors after the next start, which should take place on Friday.
"Yeah, I think so. I think so," he responded. "Again, that will be five days from now. We'll see where he's at. He's here, he's going to travel with us, continue to do all his stuff and then go back out for another one."
Williams said he wasn't sure yet where that second rehab start will take place?
"I don't know yet, I don't know exactly where it will be but in five days he'll go again."
• We talked about Jordan's outing, Fister's rehab start and Bryce Harper's left thumb on the last edition of Nats Nightly after today's game: