Nationals could call Taylor Jordan from Double-A to replace Haren

The Nationals hope that Bryce Harper's return can help save an offense that has scored the fewest runs in the major leagues this month.

Then they can focus on the hole in their starting rotation. Taylor Jordan could be the answer there.

Jordan, a 24-year-old right-hander who began the season in Class A and has spectacular numbers at Double-A Harrisburg, has emerged as a top candidate to take the spot vacated when Dan Haren went on the disabled list on Sunday. One source who speaks regularly with Nationals decision-makers went so far as to call him the leading candidate.

Jordan, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, hasn't allowed more than one earned run in any of his first nine Double-A games. Overall, he has a 0.73 ERA with just eight walks and 42 strikeouts in 49 innings.

Haren, who went on the disabled list with shoulder stiffness, has been the weakest link in a rotation that is otherwise solid. Signed for $13 million as a free agent, Haren has a 6.15 ERA and has allowed 19 home runs, tied with Jeremy Guthrie for the most in the majors.

Haren's struggles have caused some to speculate that the Nationals are trying to trade for a starting pitcher, but sources familiar with their plans say they still believe they can solve the problem without making a deal. At this point, they believe Jordan is the best solution.

As for the offense, the Nationals have scored just 90 runs in the 25 games since Harper went on the disabled list and just 125 runs in 35 games since Harper hurt his knee crashing into a wall at Dodger Stadium.

Harper is expected to begin a rehab assignment this week and could be back in the Nationals' lineup as soon as this weekend.

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