WASHINGTON -- While manager Davey Johnson didn't name his Saturday starter before Thursday's game, he hinted that it will be right-hander Taylor Jordan, who has been the leading candidate to start in place of the injured Dan Haren all along.
"I don't know when they're going to name it," Johnson said with a grin. "I'm sure the young man knows he's coming up."
A source with knowledge of the situation said on Sunday that Jordan would "probably" make the start in New York. Other possible candidates, like Nate Karns and Danny Rosenbaum, have since made their scheduled Minor League starts and would have to pitch on short rest.
Jordan is having the best year of his professional career, and Saturday's start would give him a jump on his Citi Field debut after having been named to represent the Nationals at the Mets' ballpark for the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game on July 14.
"If he goes, I think he'll perform similar to the way he's done here. I don't think the level is going to dictate his effort or his angst," Harrisburg pitching coach Paul Menhart said. "He's the kind of kid that I think has no pulse when he pitches. He's that kind of special, where he does have that ability to go pitch to pitch and focus on that particular pitch at that time. So just because it's the big leagues or whatever, I don't think it really matters to this kid."
Ranked as the organization's No. 17 prospect by MLB.com, Jordan started the season with Class A Potomac and is now with Double-A Harrisburg, having gone a combined 9-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 14 starts between the two clubs this season. In eight Double-A starts, he has a perfect 7-0 record with 43 strikeouts, nine walks and a 0.85 WHIP.
Menhart and Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy described Jordan as having strong command of a fastball that reaches 95 mph. The 24-year-old keeps the ball down with a good sinker and a changeup that exhibits split-finger action, and he also throws a slider. Some deception in his delivery adds to the package. Now Jordan just has to show he can translate that stuff to the Majors
"As a manager in the Minor Leagues, we can't simulate the stadiums," LeCroy said. "There's a lot of things that are out of your control down here, to really get a true read, but if he throws the baseball down in the zone and commands it like he's done here, he should be OK."
Before Thursday's game, the Nationals outrighted right-handed pitcher Ryan Perry to Harrisburg in order to clear a spot for Saturday's starter, presumably Jordan, on the 40-man roster.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.