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An examination with a Los Angeles specialist on Wednesday revealed a problem with a disc in the left-hander's lower back, causing a pinched nerve. Detwiler received an injection and will miss another month, according to manager Davey Johnson.
"It's causing the pinching in the nerve which is causing that to spasm," Johnson said. "I think the procedure is to give him an injection. But he's got to rest it."
Detwiler has already been out since July 4 with what was originally termed a lower back strain by the Nationals. Several attempts to throw off a bullpen mound since have resulted in continued discomfort, so the club sent the pitcher to Southern California to be examined by specialist Robert Watkins.
With Detwiler now sidelined perhaps until September, the Nationals will need to find a longer-term replacement in their rotation.
Rookie Taylor Jordan has filled in well, posting a 3.68 ERA in five starts. But the 24-year-old, in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, is due to be shut down after another 20-to-30 innings, Johnson said, and thus won't finish out the year.
Veteran Ross Ohlendorf, who has pitched primarily out of the bullpen but will make a spot start Friday in the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Mets, could slide into that spot if he continues to pitch well.
The Nationals also could look to trade for a veteran starter, though that option seemed more likely when they were closer to contention in the NL East. Their current six-game losing streak leaves them nine games back both in the NL East and NL Wild Card races, perhaps stifling the thought of an acquisition before the July 31 trade deadline.