The Nationals have optioned right-hander Luis Atilano to Class AAA Syracuse, a move made to give the club an extra position player until the fifth starter's spot comes back up July 20.
No corresponding move was announced, but Justin Maxwell was scratched from Syracuse's lineup tonight, raising the likelihood the outfielder is en route to Washington and will be in uniform tomorrow.
Atilano, who is 6-6 with a 4.85 ERA in 15 starts, allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings last night and was charged with the loss against the Padres. He was told his demotion will only be temporary and that he'll be recalled in time to start the Nationals' fifth game coming out of the All-Star break (July 20 at Cincinnati).
In the meantime, Atilano will start Thursday for Syracuse, with an emphasis on refining the breaking ball that betrayed him during last night's outing. That will leave him on schedule to rejoin the Nats' rotation five days later.
"Definitely I'm going to work on getting my breaking stuff the right way," he said. "Hopefully I find it down there in one start or two, whatever I have to do. I'm going to work hard to get it."
So the Nationals' rotation alignment coming out of the break will feature Stephen Strasburg and Livan Hernandez in the first two spots and Atilano in the final spot. J.D. Martin and Craig Stammen will start the third and fourth games, though not necessarily in that order.