US Presswire photo
Yunesky Maya faces an uncertain future after another shaky start last night.
There was, of course, plenty else going on during that wildly entertaining ballgame. So as you pull out your lunchboxes and enjoy leftovers of whatever you are for dinner last night, here are some leftovers from last night's game to chew on as well...
Has the Cuban right-hander's time run out? He certainly hasn't done much of anything to warrant another opportunity after another stinker last night. For the sixth time in nine career starts, Maya failed to reach the sixth inning. For the third time in four starts this season, he failed to get out of the fifth.
Remember, in only six of the Nationals' 67 games this year has the starting pitcher been unable to complete five innings. Maya was the man on the mound for three of those games.
The most frustrating aspect of it is the sheer predictability of it. When Jim Riggleman let Maya take the mound for the top of the fifth last night having already allowed three runs on five hits, how many among the crowd of 26,739 honestly believed he'd make it through the inning unscathed?
Afterward, Maya attributed his struggles to the fact the Cardinals were pouncing on his first-pitch fastballs. He said it should be an easy adjustment to make next time out.
But will there be a next time? All signs certainly point to: No. Tom Gorzelanny made a four-inning rehab start at Syracuse Monday, and though his numbers weren't great (four runs, five hits allowed) the left-hander said his arm felt good and that he's ready to come off the DL. Can't imagine the Nats won't just slide him into Maya's rotation slot and have him start Sunday against the Orioles.
What, though, happens to Maya? Does he get sent back to Syracuse? Does he move to the bullpen as a long reliever? The organization invested four years and $6 million in this guy, and there are still 2 1/2 years and about $4 million remaining on the contract. He's done little to date to suggest he can be a big-league starter. Might be time to see if he can handle another role.
Lost in the shuffle was an impressive big-league debut for the right-hander, who replaced Maya with two outs in the fifth, got Skip Schumaker to line out to end that inning and then retired three of four batters in the sixth.
Mattheus (along with Henry Rodriguez) helped bridge the gap to the back end of the Nationals' bullpen, making this victory possible at all.
Most folks didn't know much about Mattheus when he was called up over the weekend in San Diego, but he's been an intriguing guy to monitor. Mike Rizzo acquired him (along with fellow right-hander Robinson Fabian) on July 31, 2009 in the trade that sent Joe Beimel to Colorado. Mattheus, though, had just undergone Tommy John surgery a three weeks earlier and wouldn't be able to pitch again for at least one year.
"We felt it was a risk worth taking to roll the dice and see if this guy returns to his pre-injury form," Rizzo said that afternoon. "If he does that ... we've got a steal here for a situational left-handed reliever that was going to walk away in two months."
Well, looks like it was worth the risk. Mattheus posted a 1.46 ERA in 22 combined appearances between Harrisburg and Syracuse this season, and he flashed some impressive stuff last night against the Cardinals.
Really lost in the shuffle was the switch of center fielders in the bottom of the second inning, with Roger Bernadina pinch-hitting for Ankiel before the latter had ever stepped to the plate.
Turns out Ankiel strained an intercostal (ribcage) muscle tracking down Ryan Theriot's single to center in the game's very first at-bat. He tried to play through it for a little while but couldn't.
Ankiel's status is officially "day-to-day," though Riggleman said he won't play tonight. Don't be surprised if this thing lingers for a while, or even requires a DL stint. You may remember Ryan Zimmerman missed the final 10 games last season with his own intercostal strain. It's the kind of injury that heals only with rest.