This week Hirsch spoke to Patrick Reddington, who covers the Washington National's for SB Nation. Matt Harvey takes the mound tonight to open a three-game home series against the Nats that will wrap up the month.
Hirsch: RHP Taylor Jordan is expected to be called up on Saturday to make his Major League debut against the Mets in place of Dan Haren. What is the early scouting report on Jordan?
Reddington: Though the Nationals still haven't officially announced it as I write this, there are multiple reports which have and Davey Johnson all-but said on the radio in D.C. earlier this week it would be Taylor Jordan, the 24 year-old right-hander going on Saturday. Johnson described him as a "young stud" with a "a nice little slider and a changeup to go with a mid-90s fastball." He wasn't on Baseball America's Top 10 Prospect list before the season. Jordan's in his second year back from Tommy John surgery in 2011, and has really taken off at Double-A (0.83 ERA, 7.17 K/9, 1.50 BB/9, 0 HR in 54 IP) after starting the season in Potomac (A Advanced).
The Nats' lack of depth in starting pitching at Triple-A (and injury issues among top prospects) has had them reaching down to Double-A for each of the last two fill-ins they needed with Nate Karns called up earlier this season. Jordan's considered the next best available arm right now. In a great interview with Patriot-News' writer Geoff Morrow, Jordan's pitching coach talked a lot about his unorthodox and deceptive motion, though he also said in the article he wasn't sure the right-hander was ready for major league action. I think the Nationals are probably hoping the deception in his delivery, willingness to pound the zone and lack of info on him might get them a few strong starts while they sort out their no.5 starter situation. Don't know of he's a long-term fix since he's on an innings limit, but he's another hard-throwing right-hander in the mold the Nats' scouts love and we're definitely interested in seeing him.
Hirsch: The Nationals have really been struggling offensively this season, particularly with Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos out of the lineup. What are their rehab schedules looking like, and will their return to the lineup potentially mean that the Nats will do less at the deadline than some speculated?
Reddington: Mike Rizzo, the Nats' GM of course, was quoted recently stating that the left and right-handed bats the team is looking for to boost the offense are going to be coming back from the DL soon rather than through a trade at the deadline. Harper and Ramos are both reportedly close to returning. Unless the Nationals surprise most people and bring Harper up in NY, it's looking like he'll be back in D.C. on Monday when the Nationals start a series with Milwaukee, but after another low-scoring loss last night it sure sounded like Davey Johnson wanted his left fielder back sooner than later. Ramos has had two hamstring injuries this year after a devastating knee injury last season, so the Nats are taking things slowly with him, but he's about to start playing some rehab games with a goal of returning by July 4th.
The addition of the two power bats will give the Nationals one long lineup: Denard Span; Anthony Rendon; Harper; Ryan Zimmerman; Adam LaRoche; Jayson Werth; Ian Desmond; Ramos (just a guess at lineup). That's a bit more imposing than what they've been fielding. I think they're more likely to go after pitching at the deadline than a big bat.
Hirsch: Obviously Davey Johnson has a special place in the hearts of many Mets fans. Have there been any discernible differences in his managing style between when he first took over the team two years ago and now?
Reddington: Davey really seemed to struggle to find roles for his relievers early in the season. He said as much. But when the Nationals whiffed on a bunch of left-handed relievers this winter they tried to go with a right-hand heavy pen. He really struggled to find roles for some pitchers who are gone now. Johnson's made his preference for left-handers in the pen well-known in the past and now has them in two kind-of-out-of-nowhere-types in former Astros' lefty Fernando Abad and former A's prospect Ian Krol and you're seeing the bullpen function a lot more efficiently now that it has the makeup Johnson prefers. Was odd to see the 70-year-old skipper struggle openly with that early though.
I think a lot of people out there probably wondered if Johnson would manage differently this season knowing that it was his last run, but he's always acted with an eye on the present and the future since he took over in D.C., working younger players in and guiding some of the Nationals who were on the cusp, like Ian Desmond, to another level. I don't see him doing much different this year than he has in the past. Still doesn't love running. Still has unwavering faith in his players, at least publicly, but he's also been willing to make tough choices like sitting Danny Espinosa down and bringing Anthony Rendon up when it became painfully obvious Espinosa was lost.
He's still ornery at times, opinionated, stubborn and a little too truthful occasionally. Basically the same old Davey in the way he manages and acts.