When the season started, it seemed like the Nats had 6 or 7 starting pitchers. Thanks to injury Chien-Ming Wang wasn’t quite ready yet, and thanks to Ross Detwiler‘s strong spring training, John Lannan was shipped down to AAA. Lannan’s name hasn’t been mentioned much around these parts, and that’s probably because Detwiler’s been pitching so well. The Nats can leave Lannan down there, and pitch Detwiler until they decide to do otherwise.

But with Wang, things aren’t so simple. Now that he’s healthy, they need to decide what to do with him by the end of May, when his rehab time is up. If they don’t bring him up to the major league squad, he can’t just go down to the minors. And since he doesn’t play 3B, C, 1B, LF or RF (yup, all those places have seen injury), they don’t have a spot to plug him in. Meanwhile, the guy who he’d presumably replace has pitched great. Detwiler’s last start was poor, but even with that he’s got a 2.75 ERA with 28 Ks and 10 BBs in 39 1/3 IP. The team has also said they won’t use Wang out of the bullpen, and they aren’t doing a 6 man rotation. But they have a few options when he comes to the Nats.

  • Start Wang and move Detwiler to the bullpen. He probably won’t get a ton of work, though, as he’d more likely be used in long relief, and this team hasn’t needed to much of that.
  • Start Wang and move Detwiler to AAA. He’s got options and he can keep working on an every 5 day basis. At least until injury / trade / Strasburg innings limit.
  • Trade Wang before the time to bring him up comes. You might not get great value for him, but somebody’s going to want him now, and the Nats could use an outfielder or a catcher.
  • Of course, since we’re making the decisions for them here, we could decide to keep Detwiler in the rotation, and use Wang in the bullpen, even though they say they won’t.

We can assume that if Wang does pitch well as a starter, they can trade him later in the season – but thanks to his contract they won’t be getting anything truly special. Which way should the Nats go with their rotation?

By Charlie