Saturday, September 4, 2010, 6:05 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
PITTSBURGH -- Recently signed Cuban right-hander Yunesky Maya will make his major-league debut for the Washington Nationals Tuesday night against the New York Mets, according to a club source, relegating struggling left-hander Scott Olsen to the bullpen for now.
Maya, who signed a four-year contract with the Nationals in July, made five starts at three different levels of their farm system, going 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA and holding opponents to a .225 batting average. The 29-year-old last pitched Wednesday for Class AAA Syracuse, allowing one run over 5 23 innings and putting himself on schedule to join the big-league staff after the club returns from this weekend's series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Formerly a top pitcher in the Cuban National Series who pitched for his native country in both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic, Maya features a deep repertoire of pitches and arm angles, including several different versions of a breaking ball that has long been his calling card.
Maya defected from Cuba last September and spent much of 2010 in the Dominican Republic, drawing the attention of several major-league organizations. The Nationals beat out others for his services, offering him a four-year, major-league contract and the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues before this season was over.
The addition of Maya (who will be recalled from Syracuse along with several other players after the Chiefs' season ends Monday) relegates Olsen to the Nationals' bullpen for now. The left-hander has endured through a wildly inconsistent season. In 15 starts, he's 3-8 with a 5.88 ERA, though he's allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of those outings. He also spent two months in midseason on the disabled list with tendinitis in his surgically repaired left shoulder.
A 1 23-inning, nine-run start Wednesday night against the Florida Marlins, though, ended Olsen's run in the Nationals' rotation. He'll be available to pitch out of the bullpen beginning Sunday, though manager Jim Riggleman said he'll likely get another chance to start before season's end.
"As we move forward, we've just got to make an evaluation," Riggleman said. "Is he a starter for us? Is he a reliever? Is he part of our rotation? We just don't know yet. One way we'll get a little information is by watching some other people start and seeing where they fit in."
Mark Zuckerman covered the Nationals for The Washington Times from 2005-09. In addition to regular work this season for CSNwashington.com, he also covers the team at www.natsinsider.com. Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.