A.J. Cole was called upon to do the yeoman's work on Saturday, taking over on the mound for Stephen Strasburg in the fourth with the Washington Nationals down 6-0.
Cole, 23, went 4 ⅓, giving up two runs, but he managed to save the Nats' bullpen from what could have been a long afternoon, throwing a total of 65 pitches and striking out seven batters along the way in an impressive relief outing.
"Just stretched our bullpen," Nationals' manager Matt Williams said after the game.
"Unfortunately, those are the positions that he's been in. But he saved extra work for the bullpen today. He's able to get out there and go to 100 if he had to, but he threw some good changeups, he gave up a couple of runs but all in all threw the ball well, threw strikes and worked through the innings we needed him to work through."
Unfortunately for Cole, the long outing means he probably wouldn't be available for the next few days, and with Tanner Roark already working to get ready for a start tomorrow afternoon in Chicago in the series opener with the Cubs in Wrigley Field in place of Doug Fister, the bullpen was essentially down two men, so the Nationals had to make a move.
Before this afternoon's game, they announced that Cole was being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse with right-hander Taylor Jordan coming up to take his spot in the bullpen.
The #Nats have recalled RHP Taylor Jordan and optioned RHP AJ Cole to Triple-A Syracuse.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 24, 2015
In 9 ⅓ IP so far this season, Cole has a 5.79 ERA, a 2.92 FIP, one walk (0.96 BB/9) and 9 Ks (8.68 K/9). He'll return to the Syracuse where he was (0-1) in five starts with a 2.67 ERA, a 4.18 FIP, two walks (0.67 BB/9) and 16 Ks (5.33 K/9) in 27 IP between stints in the majors, making a spot start in Atlanta this month and two appearances out of the pen when he was called back up.
Taylor Jordan, 26, was (1-2) through seven starts with the Nats' top minor league affiliate before he got the call today, posting a 2.41 ERA, a 2.62 FIP, eight walks (1.71 BB/9) and 26 Ks (5.57 ERA) in 42 IP so far this season.
We talked about Cole's outing yesterday, the Nationals' loss and more on Nats Nightly: