Less than two months into the season, the Washington Nationals already have the worst record in the National League and are scraping for starting pitchers.
The Nationals (13-26) likely will have to put Jerome Williams back on the 15-day disabled list just hours after activating him prior to his start Tuesday. The right-hander lasted just two-plus innings, giving up five runs and seven hits in the 6-2 defeat before leaving with a strained rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.
“I don’t know what in the world’s going on right now,” Williams said after falling to 0-5. “I pitch fine. I go up on the DL, then came off of that - and now this.”
“It just gives someone else an opportunity to come pitch at the big-league level,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “Somebody else will step in and we’ll move forward.”
The spate of injuries has forced Acta to use Speigner (1-0, 3.77 ERA) in the rotation. The rookie right-hander will be on a pitch count for this game according to his manager, but if his wildness carries over from his relief stints to his first major league start, the pitch count may be moot.
Speigner has allowed 14 hits and walked 12 in pitching just 14 1-3 innings over 12 relief appearances. Only 54.6 percent of his 249 pitches have gone for strikes.
Additionally, Speigner may have a tough time containing the top three hitters in the Braves’ (25-14) lineup - Kelly Johnson, Willie Harris and Edgar Renteria. The trio went a combined 7-for-15 with six runs scored and three RBIs in Tuesday’s victory, with Renteria hitting a two-run homer in the first and a solo shot in the seventh.
Renteria has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games, batting .344 (33-for-96) with four homers, 14 RBIs and 20 runs scored in that span.
Braves starter Kyle Davies (1-1, 5.35) will try to win consecutive starts for just the third time in his career and the first time since July 30 and Aug. 4, 2005. The right-hander is coming off his best outing of the season, limiting the Pittsburgh Pirates to one run in seven innings of a 4-1 victory on Friday.
“My confidence is starting to get a little bit better and my pitching is a little bit better, and I think the two go hand in hand,” said Davies, who hadn’t won since beating Washington 6-1 on Sept. 18.
Braves third baseman Chipper Jones may miss his fourth consecutive game due to bruises on both his palms suffered in a fall following a collision with Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jose Bautista on Friday. Since the swelling has not gone down in his right hand, Jones had it X-rayed on Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury.
“You would think that a bruise wouldn’t keep you out so long,” Jones told the Braves’ official Web site. “But if it is bruised, it’s bruised in the exact right spot to keep me from being able to get going.”