Manager Manny Acta pointed out that Chico is the only starter not to miss a turn and has had more ups than downs this year. Acta also said that Chico is mentally tough. Bad starts do not affect the left-hander.
"He will not crumble even though he has his struggles with his walks or whatever. It's not like I have to get him out of there in the first or second inning. He still battles with what he has," Acta said. "He makes pitches and gives us what he has."
In his last start on Friday, Chico walked six batters in five innings against the Diamondbacks. It prompted general manager Jim Bowden to activate right-hander Shawn Hill sooner than expected.
"I'm not ready to jump on the Chico bashing that has been out there," Acta said. "[Seven] of our [starters] have been on the DL, and I've been able to count on Chico every fifth day. I don't think I'm going to be changing my mind [about Chico] because some guys come up here and have two or three good outings. We do look at stuff, age and all of that, but we are not going to forget what we've seen in the past."
As for Hill, Acta said the right-hander has nothing to prove, believing that the record (3-3, 2.70) he put up before he hurt his right elbow and left shoulder was not a fluke.
"He could struggle the rest of the way. We know his stuff is there. It's just about him being healthy," Acta said. "He doesn't have to prove anything to me regarding performance."
On Tuesday, Hill will throw no more than 80 pitches against the Phillies.
Off the bench: Infielder Tony Batista is known to be a streaky hitter. For that reason, Acta thought Batista may have problems getting used to coming off the bench. However, Batista is the team's best pinch-hitter, going 10-for-35 (.286) with eight RBIs.
"He has done a tremendous job coming off the bench -- righties, lefties, it doesn't matter," Acta said. "We are that confident in him that he is our best bat off the bench."
Injury report: Jesus Colome (soft tissue infection in his right buttocks) pitched one shutout inning for the Gulf Coast Nationals on Sunday.
Stat of the day: The Nationals are 4-14 when they play on Tuesdays this season.
Did you know? The Nationals are 30-29 when they play at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium this season.
Coming up: The Nationals have the day off on Monday and then return to RFK to play a three-game series against the Phillies on Tuesday. The two teams have played each other eight times, with the Nationals winning three games.
In the opener, Washington right-hander Hill will face Philadelphia right-hander Kyle Lohse.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.