The Nationals' patience with Chien-Ming Wang has to be reaching a breaking point.
The right-hander lasted only 3 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season, in a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
"He is still having some delivery problems," said manager Davey Johnson. "For him to throw that many pitches and walk three guys, it is just not him. His arm strength is back, but he is still trying to do too much and (is not getting) into a position to locate the ball well."
The Rays set the tone with three straight singles off of Wang in the top of the first, taking the lead on a B.J. Upton RBI single.
In the third, Tampa Bay scored four runs, highlighted by a two-run homer by Carlos Pena and a two-run triple by Elliot Johnson.
During Wang's last home start, manager Davey Johnson said Wang was having issues with his arm slot. Wang was unable to get much break on his slider, and the Rays connected for seven hits.
Wang has allowed at least seven hits in three of his four starts.
But the most egregious mistake came in the top of the fourth when Wang walked the opposing pitcher, David Price, who came in hitting .143 (2-for-14) in the rare times he gets to hit as an American League pitcher.
Then, after Wang was lifted, reliever Ross Detwiler came in and shut down the Rays with no hits and no runs over 3 2/3 innings.
So will Johnson make the switch back to Detwiler as the starter?
"If I thought he would get it better out of the bullpen rather than starting, that would come with the decision," Johnson said. "I am not going to make that decision after a rough outing. Detwiler was obviously superb. I want to get Chien-Ming back to where his delivery and everything is good. It was a little bit better today."
But again, it was a stark contrast between Wang and Detwiler. With the Nationals on a four-game skid, the pressure begins to mount to make a decision on Wang's future.
But Johnson won't be quick to change just to change. He said he will let pitching coach Steve McCatty work with Wang this week and see if they can get his delivery back to where it was when he was successful.