Skip to content

UPDATE: Cole to make MLB debut Tuesday night

Apr 27, 2015, 11:36 PM EDT

AP

Updated at 11:36 p.m.

ATLANTA — With Max Scherzer’s sprained thumb not healed enough to make his scheduled start Tuesday night, the Nationals will send prospect A.J. Cole to the mound to make his major-league debut against the Braves.

Cole, 22, is the organization’s top-rated, upper-level pitching prospect, rated the 30th-best prospect in the entire sport by Baseball Prospectus, 91st by Baseball America. The lanky, 6-foot-5 right-hander has a 2.40 ERA in three starts so far this season with Class AAA Syracuse after going 13-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 25 combined starts between Syracuse and Class AA Harrisburg in 2014.

The Nationals’ fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft out of Oviedo (Fla.) High School, Cole was one of four prospects dealt to the Athletics in the December 2011 trade that brought Gio Gonzalez to Washington. The Nationals then re-acquired him in January 2013 as part of the 3-team trade that sent Michael Morse to Seattle.

Cole now becomes the fourth different pitcher to make his major-league debut for the Nationals in two weeks, joining relievers Rafael Martin, Felipe Rivero and Matt Grace. The club will make a corresponding roster move once he is officially recalled from Syracuse before Tuesday’s game.

The Nationals could have gone with Tanner Roark instead, but the starter-turned-reliever would have been available to throw only 50-to-60 pitches, Williams said.

Scherzer tested out his thumb again Monday afternoon during a throwing session in the outfield at Turner Field. Though it felt better than the previous day in Miami, it’s still not 100 percent healed, so the right-hander will not make his scheduled start, manager Matt Williams said.

Williams did say he doesn’t expect Scherzer to need more than a couple extra days to get back on the mound, which means he could slot back into another spot in the rotation during this road trip and not simply pick up his place in five days.

“I would think that before another five days he’d be OK to go,” the manager said. “But there’s a progression there, too. We’ve got to get him on a bump and let him throw all his pitches and make sure he can do all that. That might happen [Tuesday]. But he came out and played flat-ground catch, felt fine. Threw his fastball 100 percent, but still a little tough gripping the slider for him. We’ll make sure he’s good to go when he’s good to go.”

Scherzer hurt himself when he was jammed while hitting during Thursday’s game in Washington. He remained in that game and pitched two more innings but noticed swelling in his thumb afterward. On Sunday in Miami, the right-hander suggested he sprained a ligament.

  1. texnat1 - Apr 27, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    I’d go with Cole, personally. Don’t like jacking around with Roark’s role and would end up putting a ton of stress on the bullpen.

    • unkyd59 - Apr 27, 2015 at 7:39 PM

      Agree. Roark’s not stretched out.

  2. npb99 - Apr 27, 2015 at 11:54 PM

    No pressure, Cole, but we really need a savior right now.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 28, 2015 at 12:17 AM

    Good luck, Mr. Cole. I don’t envy you.

  4. Drew - Apr 28, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    Cole’s debut is a reminder of just how successful the Nats’ minor league system has been at drafting and developing players. I think the next to reach the bigs after Cole — Meyer, perhaps — will be the 30th major leaguer the Nats’ minor league system has produced between the 2005 and 2011 drafts.

    This does not include guys who did not sign with the Nats, like Aaron Crow and Marcus Stroman.

    2005
    Zim
    Maxwell
    Lannan
    Stammen

    2006
    Marrero
    Kimbal
    Peacock

    2007
    Detwiler
    Zimnn
    Souza
    Norris

    2008
    Espinosa
    Milone
    Moore
    Lombo

    2009
    Strasburg
    Storen
    Kobernus
    MAT
    T. Jordan
    Karns

    2010
    Harper
    Cole
    Grace
    Ray
    Barrett

    2011
    Rendon
    T. Hill
    B. Burns
    (A. Meyer)
    (B. Goodwin)
    (M. Skole)

  5. Guapo - Apr 28, 2015 at 7:54 AM

    Roark is steady and proven. Exactly what this team needs right now. Not a rookie. MW hasn’t a clue how to manage at this level.

    • unkyd59 - Apr 28, 2015 at 8:53 AM

      Yeah… Because if he knew what he was doing, he have the BP pitch at least 9 innings, in the same day…. That was a clown statement, Bro…

      • Guapo - Apr 28, 2015 at 9:22 PM

        Roark starts this game and they would have won it, easy. MW is over his head.

    • NatsLady - Apr 28, 2015 at 9:21 AM

      Roark will be right there if Cole gets in trouble. If Cole can go even three or four innings, Roark can come in for two or three as a piggy-back. I feel bad for Roark because he doesn’t get the start, but his other choice would have been to go to Syracuse. I expect he’d rather be in a major-league bullpen than in a minor-league rotation with only the possibility of spot starts–see Lannan, John.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

WLGB
NEW YORK9072
WASHINGTON83797.0
MIAMI719119.0
ATLANTA679523.0
PHILADELPHIA639927.0

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter