WASHINGTON -- The Nationals elected to begin the season carrying four starting pitchers in order to have an extra bench player, but they are scheduled to need a fifth starter this weekend in Philadelphia.Washington does not have a starter listed for Saturday night, and it cannot use right-hander Joe Ross,
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals elected to begin the season carrying four starting pitchers in order to have an extra bench player, but they are scheduled to need a fifth starter this weekend in Philadelphia.
Washington does not have a starter listed for Saturday night, and it cannot use right-hander Joe Ross, who was optioned to the Minors at the beginning of the regular season. He must remain there for 10 days, so he is not eligible for a promotion until April 12. Manager Dusty Baker would not announce who will start Saturday, but all signs point to veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie.
Guthrie, who turns 38 on Saturday, was a non-roster invitee at Spring Training who has not pitched in the Majors since 2015, but he said he wanted one last shot at trying to make a Major League team. He posted a 2.41 ERA in 18 2/3 innings in the spring and impressed enough that the Nats want to keep him in the organization. It is also unlikely that Guthrie would have accepted a Minor League assignment unless he knew he was going to have a shot at the Majors soon.
When asked about Guthrie prior to Thursday's game against the Marlins, Baker acknowledged him as a player who was "in our plans."
"He threw the ball pretty good, he threw the ball very good, which is one of the reasons why we kept him in the system as well," Baker said. "There's going to be times when you're going to need that spot start from certain people."
The Nationals do not have a regular long reliever in the bullpen, and Guthrie could help fill that role later in the season. The club is carrying only 39 players on its 40-man roster, after Clint Robinson cleared waivers this past week, so it has room to add Guthrie to the roster.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.