Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Nats to decide on 5th rotation spot soon

Hellickson, Cole likely candidates for Monday start in New York
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are going to have to make a decision soon about their fifth starter spot, with right-hander Jeremy Hellickson continuing to make progress at extended spring training.

Hellickson threw a side session Wednesday and manager Dave Martinez said he "feels like he's ready." He has another side session scheduled, but not another start. Washington will need its fifth starter to pitch Monday night in New York and will have to determine whether to give right-hander A.J. Cole another outing or give Hellickson a chance.

View Full Game Coverage

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are going to have to make a decision soon about their fifth starter spot, with right-hander Jeremy Hellickson continuing to make progress at extended spring training.

Hellickson threw a side session Wednesday and manager Dave Martinez said he "feels like he's ready." He has another side session scheduled, but not another start. Washington will need its fifth starter to pitch Monday night in New York and will have to determine whether to give right-hander A.J. Cole another outing or give Hellickson a chance.

View Full Game Coverage

"We haven't made that decision yet," Martinez said. "A.J. pitched well, but we haven't made any decisions yet."

The Nats signed Hellickson near the end of Spring Training, and he was not able to begin the season on time because of his late start. They have allowed him to build up his stamina at their complex in West Palm Beach, but now that his pitch count is ready, they do not believe he needs to make any Minor League starts before coming to Washington.

Video: WSH@MIA: Hellickson fans Rojas swinging in the 2nd

How soon he joins the Nats has always been connected to Cole's performance in the rotation.

Cole rebounded from his nightmarish first outing of the year with a much more solid effort Wednesday. He gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings with five strikeouts against Atlanta, after surrendering 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings in his 2018 debut last week.

With such a drastic difference between the two outings, it is difficult to determine exactly what Washington will get each time Cole takes the mound. But Martinez, who almost always accentuates the positive, said he would lean toward accepting Cole's second outing as closer to reality because of the nerves involved with a season debut.

"Last outing was pretty much what I expected," Martinez said. "Liked what I saw."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, A.J. Cole, Jeremy Hellickson