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Jordan states case with five strong innings

Mar 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

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VIERA, Fla. — Taylor Jordan knows the situation. He knows he’s now deep into a battle for the final spot in the Nationals’ Opening Day rotation, and he knows he needs to make the best possible impression every time he takes the mound over the final two weeks of spring training.

But the young right-hander also knows the more he preoccupies himself with the competition, the more he might hurt his chances.

“Honestly, I really can’t think about it,” he said. “Yesterday was a nice day to collect myself and just have a great day and not stress. That’s exactly what I did, and just didn’t worry about it.”

Jordan let his performance do the talking last night. After a bit of a ragged first inning against the Astros, the 25-year-old settled down nicely and wound up notching five innings of one-run ball.

Jordan has now made five Grapefruit League appearances, three of them starts, during which time he has posted a 4.80 ERA. Last night, though, was his best showing to date, especially considering the manner in which bounced back from his shaky start.

The first inning included a bad throw by Ryan Zimmerman, then an error on Jordan when he stepped off the mound and had Jose Altuve dead to rights on a premature stolen base attempt but then fired the ball into center field.

“Honestly, I was thinking that he would (try to steal),” Jordan said. “I thought it was going to happen the last game, so I was kind of ready for it. If somebody gets on that’s fast, look for it. I’m a young pitcher. They think I might not look for it and I might balk. But I’m ready for it. I just made a bad throw.”

With the poise of a veteran, though, Jordan shook off that strange opening and got down to business. He tossed four scoreless innings to end his evening and retired 15 of the last 18 batters he faced, 10 of them on groundballs.

“It’s going to happen at some point in the season where you meet some adversity, but he handled it good,” manager Matt Williams said. “Shows he’s maturing.”

Jordan will get at least one more opportunity to state his case for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, hoping to beat out fellow young right-hander Tanner Roark and veteran Chris Young.

  1. adcwonk - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    Both Roark and Jordan pitching well. Makes it tough for Williams, et al, but it’s a great situation to be in!

    This fan is smiling about it ;-)

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      Agreed – not a bad problem to have!

  2. wearenationals - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    Pitching in Syracuse for Taylor Jordan can only benefit him by gaining invaluable experience with less pressure at the AAA level. I still believe the #5 starter is Tanner Roark’s. His versatility to pitch as a starter and from the bull pen gives Williams flexibility with his pitching staff.

  3. philipd763 - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    My biggest concern…..where is the offense? Is Rick Eckstein still the phantom hitting coach? Most of the offense this spring has been supplied by minor leaguers.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      What? The BAs of the starters:

      Ramos .379
      Span .333
      Rendon .323
      RZim .296
      ALR .290
      Werth .278

      Only Desi and Harper are struggling. Put Desi back in the #5 and Harp in the #3

      • Doc - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        Thanks natinalsgo!

        Always good to spread a little reality around!

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Remember, every one of the regulars hasn’t been playing every day, and even when they do, they typically get pulled half way through the game.

      Their ST lines don’t really matter, and they don’t even look that bad, except Harp’s .195 BA and Desi’s .231. And are you really worried about either one of them?

      Anyway – we’re still supposed to be in the honeymoon phase with Rick Schu. Didn’t you get Adam Kilgore’s memo love note? :>)

      • nats128 - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        Why distort the facts with Eckstein era comments. Even Harp’s .195 BA comes with a .370 OBP. I agree Desi being moved around in the order is a bad idea.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        I don’t want to see Desi at #2 in the regular season, but I think folks have been over-interpreting Williams’ comments and line up cards in the first weeks of ST.

        The next few weeks will give us a more serious idea of what he will do come opening day.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        Hiram, hope you are right.

      • chaz11963 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        Maybe I have PTSD from last season, but last night’s offense was shockingly similar.

  4. natinalsgo - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Taylor Jordan is any team’s #4 and if he gets some good infield defense behind him he can look like a #3 or better. His issue is leftys and as he works on that slider he will be more effective.

    I still don’t know which Roark the Nats get. The sample size is FIVE starts. He has a 4.50 ERA in Spring Training.

    If the Nats didn’t have Taylor then if course you go Roark.

    • nats128 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      Again, to much logic. The Nats could decide to stash Taylor Jordan in AAA as the stretched out starter. The problem with that is doubleheaders and minor injuries sometimes need that spot starter on the same schedule to fit in on proper rest.

      If Taylor did go to AAA it would give him the opportunity to work on his secondary pitches. Could Taylor Jordan be a 3.25 ERA guy. I think he can if the defense would step up for him.

  5. natinalsgo - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    On Brian Kenneys show on MLB Network they put catchers into the Shredder and Ramos was Top 10 in the MLB.

    In the NL he is listed with Yadier Molina and Buster Posey. Impressive!

  6. micksback1 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Roark has to be the 5th starter. Jordan just not as good as him in my view

  7. micksback1 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    can’t wait for the opener!!!

  8. David Proctor - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Don’t expect much offense today either–Scherzer vs Stras

  9. vannordens - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Mark, would you please discuss how big a problem Ryan’s arm is right now.

    Thanks

  10. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    This is a subject in which I have very little interest. I think Jordan could use some further seasoning at AAA but the fact is that between Jordan and his backups — Roark, Detwiler, Young, Ohlendorf — the Nats have enough pitching to force the rotations of a couple of teams into retirement. It may take the Nats a while to figure who holds the spot on a regular basis but, if the season were to play out without any major injuries, the No. 5s could easily pile up 12-14 wins.

    My only interest between now and OD is getting rid of Hairston. After reading the WaPo piece on Carroll yesterday I don’t know how they can rationalize breaking camp without him.

  11. dgourds - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Even though TJ only gave up only one run in 5 innings, I was underwhelmed by his performance yesterday. Maybe partly because I was just floored by how good the Astro’s Cosart was. He pitched 5 perfect innings against all our starters. He’s for real. Wish we had him. Hard to compare to that. But TJ’s velocity never got above 90. His command was really spotty, often way out of the strike zone or up in the zone. He was rattled during the pick off of Altuve and threw the ball away. Giving up only one run is deceiving in ST. First, it was the Astros, and not even a lot of their starters. Second, their pitcher hit for some reason and never took his bat off his shoulder. He just looked raw, unseasoned and unrefined. He’s not ready yet. His command, poise and velocity were lacking. He needs more time in AAA.

    • nats128 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      Cosart lives on the inside much like Ross Detwiler used to. You live and die by that. I think the ump was very giving for Cosart which is why he was very effective. I enjoyed it. He pitched well dont get me wrong.

      Remember, Cosart, Singleton and Zeid were all shipped to Houston by the Phoolies in the Hunter Pence deal. Nats wont see Cosart in a regular season game for a long time.

  12. Section 222 - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    I second the concern about Zim. Great diving stop, and then a piss poor throw. Next we’ll be hearing that it will be June (again) before he’s 100%. Even Bob and FP commented that they had seen some troubling signs when he’s taking ground balls in practice. The fact that he’s playing deeper is a good sign, I suppose, but he still has to make those throws.

    • Jb - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      His throwing issues were always on the routine throws. That wasn’t a routine throw last night, and under the circumstances it wasn’t that bad a throw. That’s why the official scorer reversed his ruling to hit.

      • Section 222 - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Baloney Jb. It was a horrible throw. Pulled ALR off the bag by three feet. I don’t know for sure, but it seemed that the official scorer reversed the ruling because Altuve is very fast and might have beat it out.

        You’re right that his throwing issues are mainly on routine throws, but also on difficult plays to his right. That’s one reason that last night’s play worries me. He usuall makes that play.

        Defend Zim all you want. But when the ultimate homers Bob and FP are expressing concern, that’s tells me all is not well at the hot corner.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      FP and Carp were expressing concerns because there have been real issues in the past. Maybe Zim is over it. Maybe he’s not.

      Look, even great defenders make the occasional bad throw. Given his past troubles, Zim is going to need at least a full year of a return to his prior form, or at least solid D, before he comes out from under the microscope.

      • Section 222 - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        Not true HH. Did you hear the broadcast? They were talking about what they saw in recent days when he was taking ground balls in practice.

        I will take the occasional bad throw. I just hope he cuts last year’s throwing errors (16) down considerably. If not, that’s a big problem and should hasten his move across the diamond.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        My pt is that he’s under the microscope so everything gets magnified, whether it’s in game or in practice.

        Has he really never bobbled a ball or had a misfire in fielding practice before? Three years ago, would they even have subjected his fielding practice in ST to that kind of scrutiny?

  13. natsjackinfl - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    I think it’s great to finally have several in house options that don’t cost 10 – 12 million for 1 year.

    The Nats are fine with either Tanner or Taylor as their #5 starter.

    Compared to the past when Shairon Martis or Matt Chico were considered Major League starters, things are soon much better.

    • jd - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      Exactly right NatsJack.

  14. David Proctor - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Zim has looked good throwing in what I’ve seen, however add me to the chorus of people concerned after last night’s throw. Maybe that’s unfair. Every 3B makes wild throws sometimes, even the best in the league, so maybe it’s unfair to overanalyze every poor Zim throw. But given his track record the past few years, it’s hard not to.

    • dgourds - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      Even the throw on his routine play was WEAK. He still shows funky mechanics. It’s very troubling for me. He’s a huge liability if he isn’t back to 100% with his throwing. The Nats defense was very suspect yesterday. Really bad. Even Laroche was terrible yesterday booting two balls (one of which he salvaged for an out). Harper misplayed a fly. Desmond almost blew an easy dp with a lousy throw. Jordan threw away a pick off. I really hope yesterday’s lousy defense was an anomaly. Their hitting sucked too. Not a great game.

  15. knoxvillenat - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    “Their hitting sucked too.”

    You know sometimes you do have to step back and tip your cap to the opposing pitcher and give him his due. These things will happen in major league baseball.

  16. realdealnats - Mar 20, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    I was one of the people pushing hard from the get go for Det out of the pen and Roark as #5. Still hope for that. But if Taylor Jordan is #5 and Roark is #7 in the pen, man what a staff.

    Re hitting, gotta move Desi down to 5 or 6. And what is up with Bryce?

    Re fielding, I find it worrisome too. It reminds me of last year.

    I hope everyone’s game tightens up (in the good way) so we come out of the gate smoking.

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