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Joe Ross to remain in Nationals' rotation, Doug Fister to Nats' bullpen

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams told reporters this afternoon that 22-year-old right-hander Joe Ross will stay in the Nats' rotation when Stephen Strasburg returns, with Doug Fister transitioning into a bullpen role for now.

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After he was done with six solid innings of work on the mound this afternoon in a win over Arizona in which he gave up five hits and one earned run, on a home run to right by Diamondbacks' first baseman Jarrod Saltlamacchia, 22-year-old Nationals' starter Joe Ross was (3-3) on the year, with a 2.80 ERA, four walks (0.80 BB/9) and 47 Ks (9.40 K/9) in seven starts and 45 innings pitched since he made his MLB debut for Washington on June 6th.

"He's willing to do whatever he can to help us win. So he was out there today and he'll continue to be out there..." -Matt Williams on Doug Fister moving to the bullpen

Over that same stretch, after he returned from a DL stint for tightness in his right forearm on June 18th, 31-year-old Nats' starter Doug Fister has put up a 4.86 ERA in eight starts and 46 ⅓ IP over which he's walked eight (1.55 BB/9) and struck out 30 (5.83 K/9).

Fister gave up eight hits, three home runs and five runs total in Saturday's 11-4 loss to the D-Backs in the nation's capital.

After another impressive outing in today's win, Nationals' skipper Matt Williams told reporters that Ross will remain in the Nats' rotation going forward, with Fister shifting to a long relief role in the bullpen.

Williams was first asked if he thought Ross would get another start?

"I do," he said, before explaining some of what will happen when right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg returns from the DL this weekend to face the Colorado Rockies.

"Strasburg is going to start Saturday," Williams said, "and Doug is going to go to our bullpen."

Joe Ross will remain in the rotation for now, though he is on an as-yet undisclosed innings limit in his first season in the Nats' system after throwing 121 ⅔ in 2014 and 122 ⅓ in 2013 while he was still in the Padres' organization.

"We have parameters in place. We have a plan and a strategy for him, I'm not going to share them with you..." -Mike Rizzo on how many innings Joe Ross will go in 2015

He was acquired by the Nationals this winter along with infield prospect Trea Turner in the three-team trade with the Padres and Tampa Bay Rays.

After tonight's start, Ross is up to 121 innings overall on the year between Double-A, Triple-A and the Nationals' rotation.

So how far will the Nats take Ross this season? Will Fister return to the rotation when Ross reaches his limit?

"That's still unclear," Williams said.

"So we're going to go and see where we get to and make decisions as we need to down the road. But as of right now [Fister] will be in our pen and he's eager and anxious to go get out there out of the pen and pitch."

Williams was also asked how he thought Fister will handle the move to a bullpen role after starting in all but three of his 170 major league appearances?

"He wants to pitch," the second-year manager said.

"He's willing to do whatever he can to help us win. So he was out there today and he'll continue to be out there and get innings where we can get him innings. But he's a team guy.

"He's ready to pitch at any moment to do whatever he can."

"It's a difficult task when you've been a starter for so long," Williams said. "But the opportunities for him will be long, that's kind of where we see it.

"And it's never easy, but he's willing to go out there and do what he can to help us win a ballgame."