Seeking extra bullpen help for the immediate future while paving the way for Doug Fister's pending return to their rotation, the Nationals will promote reliever Ryan Mattheus from Class AAA before tonight's series opener in Houston and send struggling starter Taylor Jordan to Syracuse, a source with knowledge of the roster move confirmed.
The transaction serves multiple purposes. It gives the Nationals a fresh reliever for the next few days after five members of the bullpen were used during Sunday's loss to the Padres. It also sets the stage for Fister to take the now-vacant spot in the rotation after the veteran right-hander makes one final rehab start Friday.
With two off-days this week, the Nationals don't need a fifth starter until one week from today against the Dodgers. Given Jordan's struggles — he's 0-3 with a 5.61 ERA in five starts — the club essentially can skip his next turn in the rotation.
The Nationals, though, can't simply slide Fister into Jordan's rotation spot. Fister, who threw 59 pitches over four innings Sunday at Class A Potomac, is on a five-day schedule that includes one more rehab start Friday for Class AA Harrisburg, then a return to the Nats' rotation Wednesday against Los Angeles.
RELATED: [With Harper out, McLouth needs to step up]
Thus, the club will need someone else to start one game either this weekend in Philadelphia or next week vs. the Dodgers, with left-hander Ross Detwiler a possibility as well as Class AAA starter Blake Treinen.
Mattheus, meanwhile, joins the Nationals' bullpen after posting a 5.40 ERA in nine appearances at Syracuse. The 30-year-old right-hander, a key member of the Nats' 2012 relief corps, struggled to a 6.37 ERA in 37 games last season while also missing two months after breaking his pitching hand on a locker following a poor performance.
Mattheus missed most of spring training with a strained chest muscle but returned in late-March with three scoreless appearances.