Speigner looks to build on his first strong start Saturday as the Nationals continue their three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Speigner (2-2, 7.79 ERA) started the season as Washington’s long reliever but was promoted to the rotation because of a slew of injuries to the Nationals’ rotation. He went 0-2 with a 14.44 ERA in his first four starts, but threw a gem in his fifth, allowing one run in six innings of Saturday’s 3-1 win over Minnesota and ace Johan Santana.
“I finally put some things together,” said Speigner, who was taken by Washington in the Rule 5 draft last winter after being drafted by the Twins in the 14th round in 2003.
Speigner, in his first season in the majors, was 1-0 with a 3.77 ERA in 12 relief outings before moving into the rotation. He is making his first appearance against the Blue Jays.
“His ERA doesn’t do him justice to how well he’s thrown so far this year,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman told the Nationals’ official team Web site. “Coming over, he was a Rule 5 guy who’s going to pitch out of the ‘pen, and now he’s a starter. Look what he’s done. It’s pretty impressive.”
Speigner will be looking to help the Nationals (29-38) bounce back after Friday’s 7-2 loss against Toronto ace Roy Halladay in the series opener. Ryan Langerhans homered for Washington, which was coming off a three-game sweep of Baltimore.
Despite the defeat, the Nationals are 5-2 on their current nine-game road trip.
“We get that offense rolling and we’re going to be dangerous,” manager John Gibbons said.
Toronto catcher Gregg Zaun, who missed 39 games with a broken right thumb, started behind the plate for the first time since returning from the disabled list last Friday, and had an RBI double in the sixth inning and a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
The Blue Jays will send another converted reliever to the mound Saturday. Shaun Marcum (3-2, 3.53) was moved into Toronto’s rotation when Victor Zambrano went on the disabled list and is 2-0 with a 2.34 ERA in his six starts.
Marcum turned in another strong outing last Saturday, throwing 6 2-3 innings in a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Back in spring training, I thought I was going to have a shot at the rotation, but they ended up getting Tomo (Ohka) and some other guys, so I was just happy to make the team at that point,” said Marcum, who has never faced the Nationals. “A few weeks ago, I got into some struggles pitching out of the pen, and I think they felt that I would be better in the rotation where I could throw all my pitches.”