Jim Riggleman says that, as of now, Jason Marquis will make his next scheduled start. The Nationals manager, though, couched that declaration pretty strongly, suggesting several times this morning that Marquis' rotation spot is not at all secure.
"If he's progressing and getting more action on the ball, getting the ball down more, getting more groundballs, then certainly we'll see that things are moving in the right direction," Riggleman said. "But we can't just let him be out there and get his brains beat out, either."
Marquis, who allowed five runs in four innings last night and actually lowered his ERA to 14.33, is on pace to start Saturday in Philadelphia. But it wouldn't be difficult for the Natioanls to make a change. Tomorrow's day off provides some leeway. The expected arrival very soon of both Jordan Zimmermann and Yunesky Maya also provides a couple of starting alternatives.
Zimmermann starts today for Class AAA Syracuse against Indianapolis. Maya, who tossed three hitless innings in his Gulf Coast League debut Friday, will probably make one more start in Viera before advancing to a higher-level affiliate.
If Marquis (who, of course, is on a two-year, $15 million contract) was removed from the rotation, he'd almost certainly remain on the major-league roster, possibly in the bullpen. Rosters expand in 16 days, but the Nats may not be able to buy that much time before making a decision.
"We'll keep starting him, or if we had to put him in the bullpen, that's an option," Riggleman said. "But that's certainly not what we want to do. We want to get this straightened out. We made a commitment to Jason that is a two-year commitment. There was a bump in the road when his elbow was barking earlier, but that seems to be behind him. We want to put him out there healthy and see if we can make progress. But we've got to ride it out here a little bit."
So, Marquis is definitely staying in the rotation?
"Well, I'm a woman. I can change my mind," Riggleman joked. "I'm not going to get locked into anything. I anticipate he'll be starting. But if the off-day and Zimmermann and Maya dictate that it's going to flow better for the rotation and set our bullpen up better if we don't ... but as I sit here right now, I'm anticipating he'll make his next start."