Chris Young lumbered through the Nationals’ clubhouse Friday afternoon, a new arrival and impossible to miss. His head, perched atop his 6-foot-10 frame, nearly scraped the ceiling.

The Nationals signed Young to a minor league contract Thursday, adding an accomplished veteran to a staff without any holes in its rotation. General Manager Mike Rizzo acquired Young because of the hole, likely inevitable, yet to be created.

“It’s part of our plan for the season, to be as deep as we can,” Rizzo said. “We’ve got a good, young pitching staff, but it’s hard to count on five starters throughout the whole season. So we’re taking precautions in case something were to happen that we’ve got a legitimate, quality major league pitcher in the fold.”

Last year, the Nationals used only eight starting pitchers, and their top five starters made 150 of 162 starts. Their best five never missed a start for an involuntary reason – Stephen Strasburg was shut down, Ross Detwiler was sent to the bullpen in favor of Chien-Ming Wang and Gio Gonzalez rested for Game 161 in place of Tom Gorzelanny.

That barely ever happens. Only three teams in the majors – the Mariners, Reds and Giants – used fewer than eight starters. The league average was 10.3 starters over the course of the year, and 18 teams used at least 15 starters. Attrition is a reality for starting rotations, and 2012 for the Nationals served as a break from reality.

And so, in walked Young on Friday. Last year, Young returned from 2011 shoulder surgery and made 20 starts, compiling a 4.15 ERA and growing stronger as his season wore on. The Nationals planned to evaluate Young after he threw a bullpen session today, but Young felt excited about his health. He prepared for 2013 on a typical throwing program, rather than a rehab program, for the first time in several years.