"You want to give him the opportunity to see how that plays going forward into next year, if he would be a candidate to start," Johnson said. "You want to have a good lead on as many good young pitchers as you can going forward. We know about [Ross Detwiler], [Taylor] Jordan, but you need to have more than just five. So we want to give him an opportunity to step up."
The Nationals considered starting Stephen Strasburg on Sunday night for the nationally televised series finale against the Mets because he only threw 22 pitches in his previous start before a rain delay ended his night. Instead, Strasburg will make his regularly scheduled start Monday in Philadelphia.
Washington has won eight of its past nine games entering Friday, but Johnson said the team's performance will not affect his approach with the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
"You do what's best for today with an eye on tomorrow," he said. "The eye on tomorrow might mean having one of these young guys not audition, but give them an opportunity to express their talent."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.