Nationals GM Mike Rizzo announced today that struggling pitcher Dan Haren will be placed on the DL with an undisclosed injury. Haren was lit up yesterday, allowing six runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings, and now has the highest ERA, 6.14, of all qualifying starters.
Haren struggled with injuries last season, mainly to his back and hip, and the Nationals suspect that physical discomfort due to those injuries is altering his mechanics, making him more susceptible to being hit. As pitching coach Steve McCattysaid, “If you’re hurting somewhere else, sometimes it can take an effect on your elbow, shoulder. We just got to make sure he feels good.” It is not known how long he will be out.
As for a replacement, there are many options. The most obvious one would be Ross Ohlendorf, who pitched well in replacement of Stephen Strasburg and out of the bullpen yesterday, but Davey Johnson would like to keep him in the bullpen, which means the Nationals may call up a pitcher from the minors. The only minor league starters on the 40-man are Nate Karns, Ryan Perry, and Matt Purke. Purke is pitching at Low-A, Perry has an ERA near 9.00, and Karns struggled in his three MLB starts earlier this year. That means the Nats would have to add a pitcher to the 40-man if they wanted to call one up. Their 40-man is full, but they could make space by either moving a player like Ryan Mattheus or Wilson Ramos to the 60-day DL or by optioning someone like Perry off the roster.
If they do, three of their main options for a callup could be Daniel Rosenbaum, Paul Demny and Taylor Jordan. Rosenbaum is at AAA Syracuse while Demny and Jordan are at AA Harrisburg. Rosenbaum has a 3.76 ERA in 14 starts this year, but also has a 1.49 WHIP. Demny has a 3.33 ERA, but Jordan’s is just 0.73. Jordan has been a sensation this season, with an ERA below 1.00 between High A Potomac and AA. However, the fact that he started the season at High A could give the Nationals some pause. Then again, they have not been hesitant to call up players who are dominating at AA like Anthony Rendon. My guess is Rosenbaum, simply for how close he is to the majors, but if Jordan gets the call, it will be a big event in Natstown.
If Haren is out for an extended period of time, the Nationals could make a trade to replace him in the rotation. It’s fairly early to speculate as to who could be available, but Chicago’s Matt Garza has been good since returning from injury, throwing eight innings and allowing one run in his last start, and will be a free agent at season’s end like Haren.