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Jordan will start Friday’s exhibition opener vs. Mets

Feb 26, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

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VIERA, Fla. — Taylor Jordan, among those competing for the final spot in the Nationals’ Opening Day rotation, will start their first exhibition game of the season.

Manager Matt Williams has tabbed the 25-year-old as his starter for Friday’s game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. There’s no hidden message to be revealed in that decision. The pitching schedule merely lined up for Jordan to start the Grapefruit League opener for both clubs.

Jordan will pitch two or three innings, Williams said, after which he’ll hand the game over to a Nationals bullpen that is expected to include highly rated prospect A.J. Cole plus relievers Christian Garcia, Xavier Cedeno, Manny Delcarmen and Aaron Barrett.

This will represent Jordan’s first opportunity to impress the Nationals’ coaching staff and make his case to beat out Ross Detwiler and Tanner Roark for the final spot in the Opening Day rotation. He earned that opportunity following a whirlwind 2013 season that saw him open at Class A Potomac, reach the big leagues June 29 and then go 1-3 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts.

Jordan’s relative lack of experience perhaps leaves him behind the curve for most pitchers in the Nationals’ farm system, but Williams believes the right-hander can take a significant leap forward this year with the right mental approach.

“I just think he needs to trust himself and trust his stuff,” Williams said. “Because it’s good. It’s really good stuff. … Yeah, he has sped through the system, but there’s a reason for that: He’s a really good pitcher.”

Williams plans to bring a sizable number of regular major leaguers to Port St. Lucie for Friday’s game. His tentative starting lineup is…

RF Nate McLouth
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
DH Tyler Moore
LF Scott Hairston
CF Michael Taylor
(RHP Taylor Jordan)

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Feb 26, 2014 at 6:24 AM

    excited about the first game! Go Taylor! Go Garcia! Go Cole! and everyone else.

  2. DaveB - Feb 26, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    Another voice that thinks Jamey Carroll has a chance (and Shark also).
    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/2014-national-league-non-roster-invitees/

    • tcostant - Feb 26, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      I think Ayala has a better chance than Carroll, of the former Nats.

      http://www.rotoworld.com/player/mlb/3619/luis-ayala

      • DaveB - Feb 26, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        Wow … hard to believe Ken Rosenthal would actually say that any of the candidates for those last 2 bullpen slots was a “shoo-in”, given that there are about 10 candidates that all look interesting and bring something worthwhile to the table. Ayala finished last year strong enough that I believe he will find a slot somewhere (still curious why the Braves wouldn’t have offered him a major league contract tho, given that they did seem to trust him at the end of the year).

        Jamey’s chances would seem to depend a lot on Espi looking like he did last year … certainly can’t count that out.

      • therealjohnc - Feb 26, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        You see, I count noses on the Nationals and just don’t see that Ayala has all that much of a chance. All Carroll needs is for Espinosa to continue to suck; Carroll would be the first in line after that (Walters and Kobernus would be better served honing their skills every day in AAA).

        Ayala, OTOH, is in a very crowded field vying for only two bullpen spots. The bullpen could use a long man/swing starter and a lefty, and Ayala is neither. If Detwiler wins the #5 rotation spot I doubt Ayala has any chance, because the last two bullpen spots would likely go to either a long man (Roark/Jordan/Ohlendorf) or a lefty. Ayala’s only shot there would be to beat out not only the lefties but also the righties already on the 40 man roster (Garcia, Mattheus and Barrett). Not much of a shot (if Garcia is healthy, Ayala is toast). Ayala’s only real chance is if either someone beats Detwiler out (because then Detwiler would be both the swing guy and a lefty alternative (though not a true LOOGY) or the Nats slot Stammen into the long man/swing starter role. Either of those would provide a sliver of a chance to Ayala, but only a sliver – he’d still have to beat out players that start ahead of him because they are left handed (Cedeno, etc), are already on the 40 man roster (Mattheus, Barrett, Davis when he is healthy) or simply have better stuff (Garcia).

        Yeah, I like Carroll’s chances better.

  3. tcostant - Feb 26, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    Real baseball! Can’t wait for 4/4!

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ATLANTA 72 65 6.0
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MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
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