Washington Nationals 2014 roster preview: Taylor Jordan

Washington Nationals 2014 roster preview: Taylor Jordan
February 9, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Age on Opening Day 2014: 25

How acquired: Drafted 9th round, June 2009

2014 salary: N/A

2013 stats: 9 G, 51.2 IP, 59 H, 27 R, 21 ER, 11 BB, 29 K, 1.355 WHIP, 3.66 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 0.7 WAR

2014 storyline: Taylor Jordan enters spring training as one of three candidates competing for the fifth and final rotation spot. He will go up against Ross Detwiler and Tanner Roark with the best pitcher winning the job and the others heading either to the bullpen or Triple-A Syracuse. Given Jordan profiles as a starter, however, it's likely either the fifth spot or a trip back to the minors.

Jordan will hope to build off his excellent 2013 season, one in which he became a breakout prospect after returning from Tommy John surgery. There should be some restrictions on him as last year he was shut down after 142 innings. Expect him to pitch upwards of 180-190 innings if healthy, and to split his year between Syracuse and Washington. Even if he doesn't make the team out of spring, he'll likely be counted on as either the sixth or seventh starter. An injury or doubleheader could bring Jordan up to D.C. very quickly. Otherwise, he will probably pitch much of the year at Syracuse as he continues to work on his secondary pitches.

Best-case scenario: Taylor Jordan's ideal scenario would have to involve him making the rotation out of spring. He was inconsistent with the Nationals last season, but managed a 3.66 ERA over 51 2/3 innings. If he could hold a similar mark over 150 innings or so, he'd establish himself as a major league pitcher and probably prevent another stint in the minor leagues. Jordan could cement himself in the Nationals' rotation, or emerge as a trade piece if they find themselves with a surplus. But, if either he or Roark were to solidify themselves as legitimate big league starters, it could give the Nats the perfect replacement for either Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister when their contracts run out after 2015.

Worst-case scenario: Jordan doesn't want to go to Syracuse for obvious reasons, but let's say he misses out on the rotation spot and heads back to the minors. Jordan was so good last year, much better than before he had surgery. If he were to take a step back, it could hurt his status as a prospect and bring into question whether 2013 was a fluke. That's unlikely to happen, but Jordan could use improvement on his slider and changeup to further round out his arsenal. We'll see if he reaches another level this season.

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Most-likely scenario: Of the three candidates gunning for the fifth rotation spot, Jordan is probably considered the third if you had to rank them. Detwiler was so good in 2012 - including a terrific performance in the playoffs - that he has to be the favorite. And with the way Roark finished last season, he would figure to be second in line. That doesn't mean Jordan will not make an impact in Washington this season, as he almost surely will. I'd expect Jordan to finish with around 10 big league starts and another 15 or so in Syracuse. Ideally he carries over the success he had at Double-A last season (7-0, 0.83 ERA) to Triple-A and sets himself up for a bright future in the majors.

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