VIERA, Fla. — Taylor Jordan knows the situation. He knows he's now deep into a battle for the final spot in the Nationals' Opening Day rotation, and he knows he needs to make the best possible impression every time he takes the mound over the final two weeks of spring training.
But the young right-hander also knows the more he preoccupies himself with the competition, the more he might hurt his chances.
"Honestly, I really can't think about it," he said. "Yesterday was a nice day to collect myself and just have a great day and not stress. That's exactly what I did, and just didn't worry about it."
Jordan let his performance do the talking last night. After a bit of a ragged first inning against the Astros, the 25-year-old settled down nicely and wound up notching five innings of one-run ball.
Jordan has now made five Grapefruit League appearances, three of them starts, during which time he has posted a 4.80 ERA. Last night, though, was his best showing to date, especially considering the manner in which bounced back from his shaky start.
The first inning included a bad throw by Ryan Zimmerman, then an error on Jordan when he stepped off the mound and had Jose Altuve dead to rights on a premature stolen base attempt but then fired the ball into center field.
"Honestly, I was thinking that he would (try to steal)," Jordan said. "I thought it was going to happen the last game, so I was kind of ready for it. If somebody gets on that's fast, look for it. I'm a young pitcher. They think I might not look for it and I might balk. But I'm ready for it. I just made a bad throw."
With the poise of a veteran, though, Jordan shook off that strange opening and got down to business. He tossed four scoreless innings to end his evening and retired 15 of the last 18 batters he faced, 10 of them on groundballs.
"It's going to happen at some point in the season where you meet some adversity, but he handled it good," manager Matt Williams said. "Shows he's maturing."
Jordan will get at least one more opportunity to state his case for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, hoping to beat out fellow young right-hander Tanner Roark and veteran Chris Young.