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Nationals call A.J. Cole up to start vs Braves; Rafael Martin optioned to Triple-A

The Washington Nationals made official this afternoon what Matt Williams announced last night. A.J. Cole was called up to start in place of Max Scherzer tonight. Rafael Martin was optioned to Triple-A to make room on the roster.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams made the announcement first, last night, after the Nats' 8-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves. "A.J. Cole will start for us tomorrow," he said, "we'll have a corresponding roster move tomorrow."

With Max Scherzer unavailable after he injured his thumb on a grounder during last Thursday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals in D.C., the Nationals needed someone to make a spot start tonight in Turner Field.

Reports out of Atlanta last night said that the choice came down to Tanner Roark, now a member of the Nats' bullpen since the Scherzer signing pushed him out of the rotation, and Cole, the, "Nationals’ No. 6 prospect, and the No. 91 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America," as this afternoon's press release noted.

The Nationals made the move official this afternoon, announcing in that press release that Cole, who was added to the 40-Man roster this winter to protect him from selection in the Rule 5 Draft, was being called up with right-hander Rafael Martin optioned to Triple-A to make room on the Nats' 25-Man Roster.

In his sixth minor league season, (the fifth with the Nats who drafted him in the 4th Round of the 2010 Draft traded him to the A's and reacquired him a year later), Cole went (6-3) with a 2.92 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 15 walks (1.90 BB/9) and 61 Ks (7.73 K/9) in 14 starts and 71 IP at Double-A Harrisburg before he moved up to make eleven starts for the Syracuse Chiefs, going (7-0) with a 3.43 ERA, a 4.48 FIP, 17 walks (2.43 BB/9) and 50 Ks (7.14 K/9) in 63 IP for the Nats' top minor league affiliate.

Cole started this season back at Triple-A, where he put a 2.40 ERA, a 3.93 FIP, one walk (0.60 BB/9) and 10 Ks (6.00 K/9) in three starts and 15 IP before he was called up today.

Martin, 30, was called up during the Nationals' three-game series in Boston. In four games, the right-hander gave up eight hits, three home runs and seven runs total, five earned over 5 IP.