MLB Team Report - Washington Nationals - INSIDE PITCH
Teams love to rely on the top guys in their rotations to stop losing streaks and add to winning stretches.
But looking back at 2013 and then ahead to next year, who is the Nationals' top gun?
Is it the very well-hyped Stephen Strasburg? What about Gio Gonzalez?
How about Jordan Zimmermann? He kind of gets overlooked all the time despite his success. And when you take a very hard look at the Washington pitching staff, he might have been this year's guy.
Strasburg and Gonzalez both had a lot of bad luck this year despite pitching well. They also had more ups and downs than 2012. Zimmermann was solid and stable almost all of 2013, and that's why he finished 19-9 with four complete games after losing on Wednesday in St. Louis, far better than Gonzalez (11-7) and Strasburg (8-9).
Zimmermann is not afraid of pitching to contact. He'll let his defense do the work behind him, which lets him throw fewer pitches and often last longer, which helps the Nationals bullpen.
The Nationals, 8-4 winners over Arizona on Friday, have a pretty formidable 1-2-3 combination of starters with Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmermann. Last year, the top two guys were great with Zimmermann just starting to break out.
This year, it went in reverse. But if all three do well in the same season, the team could be very tough to beat.
MLB Team Report - Washington Nationals - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won one
PAST 10 GAMES: 5-5
NEXT: Nationals (Dan Haren, 9-14, 4.87) at Diamondbacks (Brandon McCarthy, 5-10, 4.64)
--RHP Stephen Strasburg gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings in his final start of the season, his career-high 30th. Strasburg was 15-6 last season, but manager Davey Johnson believes he has been a better pitcher despite his 8-9 record this season. "I think he has learned more about himself and the kind of pitcher he is," Johnson said. "I think at times last year he was trying to be too much of a strikeout pitcher. He is a really good pitcher who has a tremendous command." Strasburg also had a career-high 183 innings after being shut down with 159 1/3 innings in 2012. "A lot of good milestones," Johnson said. "It's been a good year for him. It's also been a learning year, too."
--RF Jayson Werth reached base four times and hit a tie-breaking three-run home run in the fifth inning Friday to extend his strong final four months. Since coming off the disabled list June 4, Werth is hitting .335 with 22 doubles, 21 homers and 72 RBIs in 101 games. Werth also singled, walked twice and scored a run.
--RHP Dan Haren will make his final start of the season Saturday looking to extend his streak of double-digit victory seasons to nine. Haren (9-14) has won at least 10 games every season since 2005, when he was a full-time member of a starting rotation for the first time his career in Oakland. Haren had a career-high 16 victories in his first season in Arizona in 2008 and had 16 with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011. Haren has a 3.62 ERA in his last 14 starts after posting a 6.15 ERA in his first 19. He is 1-1 in two career starts against the D-backs, winning in 2004 and losing in 2012. Haren will be a free agent this winter after signing a one-year, $13 million deal with the Nationals last winter.
--LHP Gio Gonzalez or RHP Tanner Roark will start the final game of the season Sunday, manager Davey Johnson said Friday. Johnson has a 1,370-1,070 career record as manager and told some players he would like to finish 300 games above .500. He is retiring after this three-game series. "I said, 'Three hundred sounds like a good number. Maybe we can get that,'" Johnson said Friday afternoon. "Gio knows it. If we win a couple, he'll go home. If we go 1-1, he'll take the ball. It's kind of complicated and stupid." Later in the interview, Johnson said Roark "probably" would start.
--Since former Diamondbacks hitting coach Rick Schu became the Nationals' hitting coach on July 23, Washington has averaged one more run per game -- 4.7 to 3.7 -- than it did under former hitting coach Rick Eckstein. Schu spent almost two years as the D-backs' hitting coach from 2007-09.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We didn't score him any runs. A bunch of times we didn't score any runs or one run or two runs when he was starting. He should have won 15 ballgames, at least. He certainly was consistent all year long." -- Washington manager Davey Johnson, on RHP Stephen Strasburg, who finished 8-9 after an 8-4 win over Arizona on Friday.
MLB Team Report - Washington Nationals - ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Taylor Jordan (strained lower back) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 17. He won't pitch again this season. The injury isn't serious, but the Nationals didn't want to overtax the rookie, who had Tommy John surgery in 2011.
--LHP Ross Detwiler (lower back strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 6. A specialist discovered a disk problem during an examination in Los Angeles on July 24. Detwiler received an injection to help with the problem. He ran in the outfield before the Aug. 13 game, but he was at least 10 days away from baseball-related activities. On Aug. 27, manager Davey Johnson said Detwiler is likely done for the season. However, he threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Sept. 12 and said he is hopeful he can pitch in relief for the Nationals before the season is over.
--RHP Christian Garcia (partial tear in forearm tendon) was hurt Feb. 21. He went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He began a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg on May 31, and he moved his rehab assignment to Triple-A Syracuse on June 8. His rehab was shut down June 14 due to shoulder soreness. He returned to rehab games for Syracuse in July before injuring his hamstring. He was sent on another rehab assignment Sept. 3. Manager Davey Johnson does not believe he will return this season.
RHP Stephen Strasburg
LHP Gio Gonzalez
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
RHP Dan Haren
RHP Tanner Roark
RHP Rafael Soriano (closer)
RHP Drew Storen
RHP Tyler Clippard
RHP Craig Stammen
LHP Fernando Abad
RHP Ryan Mattheus
RHP Erik Davis
RHP Ross Ohlendorf
LHP Ian Krol
LHP Xavier Cedeno
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Anthony Rendon
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
INF Chad Tracy
INF Steve Lombardozzi
INF Zach Walters
INF/OF Jeff Kobernus
LF Bryce Harper
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
OF Scott Hairston
OF Tyler Moore
OF Corey Brown
OF Eury Perez