Faced with a decision to pitch a starter on short rest or use a spot start from his bullpen on Sunday against the Brewers, Nats manager Davey Johnson has decided to send Chien-Ming Wang to the mound for his first start since June 19. The situation arose after a postponed game on Tuesday against the Dodgers forced a doubleheader the following day.
After using both Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan on Wednesday against L.A., Johnson looked towards Sunday with a decision between Craig Stammen and Wang. The Nationals manager narrowed it down between the two based on matchups as the Brewers offer a lineup rife with right-handed bats. Pitching Wang also allows Johnson to keep Stammen in his current role in the bullpen, a middle-inning specialist with the ability to pitch in long relief.
The other guy I was going to do is Stammen, but I really like the role that he is in, he is invaluable in the role. If I started him I would lose him two or three days before and two or three days after, I dont want to do that at this point.
Wang appeared in Wednesdays second game, his first outing since June 30. He pitched 2 13 innings in relief and allowed zero earned runs with just a pair of hits offered to the Dodgers. Johnson liked what he saw and hopes to get a productive start out of the pitcher he originally pegged as his fifth starter back in March.
I like the way Chien-Ming Wang threw last night, he had good sink, Johnson said.
I like who he is and who he is all about and I like his competitiveness. He has been in big games and all these are big games. I think he will do us a good job on Sunday.
Wang pitching in a meaningful September game is something that sounded more realistic back when he was originally named the fifth starter. But now, after a season plagued by injuries and inconsistency, few could have guessed just a week ago he would get the opportunity. Johnson, however, doesnt forget how good he looked early on.
Hes had just a bunch of injuries that really set him back. I liked where he was in the spring, he was going to be my fifth starter over Ross Detwiler, he said.
With the terrible leg injury and maybe that led to some mechanical problems, but I like our chances with him on the mound.
Wang began the season on the disabled list with a hamstring and also hurt his hip later on in the year. Before Wednesday's game he hadn't even pitched in a minor league game since September 1.
Wang is healthy now and looked good on Wednesday, but despite getting the start Davey doesnt expect anything to change in the rotation after Sunday. If anyones job would be in jeopardy after a strong outing by Wang it would be Lannan who allowed six runs in just 3 23 innings, his worse start of the season, but Johnson confirmed he is safe for now.
One start is not going to put him in my rotation, although Lannan was all messed up. He just couldnt find the rhythm, the groove, when his other three starts up here have been great. I told Johnny dont worry about it, nothing is happening.