Zuckerman breaks down 2014 Hall of Famers (VIDEO)
Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci publishes an annual column looking at young pitchers coming off years where they saw a dramatic increase in their innings pitched from the previous season. He calls it the 'Year-After Effect' and each winter outlines ten young starters who could, based on research he has done with recent baseball history, be at risk of an injury due to their increased workload.
Sometimes Verducci is right, for instance he predicted an injury-related demise for Michael Pineda before the 2012 season. Before 2013 he also said Matt Harvey was at risk. Unfortunately he has been correct on both of those proclamations so far.
Sometimes, of course, Verducci is wrong. Before last season he highlighted Chris Sale as one with an injury risk. Sale was very good with a 3.07 ERA across 214 1/3 innings.
Last year Verducci also said Stephen Strasburg was one to watch. The Nationals' ace did battle injuries, but put together a strong season of 183 innings pitched.
This year Verducci has another Nationals pitcher on his list. Right-hander Taylor Jordan, 25, gets the red flag because he increased his workload by 47 2/3 innings last year.
Jordan is included alongside bigger names like Michael Wacha and Jose Fernandez, so Verducci doesn't explain much about the Nationals pitcher's case. Based on his age and increased workload, Verducci asserts, Jordan could be at risk this season.
Verducci could end up being right, but Jordan is in a much better situation perhaps than Wacha and Fernandez in the context of this subject. Next year the Nationals will likely not need much from Jordan as he currently figures to be their sixth or seventh starter. Wacha and Fernandez, on the other hand, are central pieces for their respective teams.
Jordan will probably find his way to Washington at some point in the year, but he's not paramount to their success. A scenario where the Nats have to ride Jordan out despite concerns about his health is hard to imagine.
Jordan had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and because of that will be likely be on an innings limit this season anyways. His season was cut short in 2013 because of the surgery and this year could be no different. That should work in his favor.
Based on the Nationals' track record developing pitchers after Tommy John, Jordan should be expected to pitch between 180-200 innings this season, depending on his health. We'll see if Verducci ends up being right, but the Nationals are already treating him with caution.