Sep 23, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
ST. LOUIS — Davey Johnson has set his rotation for the rest of the regular season, opting to give the final start of the year to Gio Gonzalez instead of rookie Tanner Roark.
Roark’s turn would come up for Sunday’s finale in Arizona, but Johnson said he’ll use Thursday’s off-day to bring Gonzalez back on regular rest, giving the lefty two more appearances before season’s end.
Roark, who is starting tonight’s series opener against the Cardinals, would be available out of the bullpen this weekend against the Diamondbacks.
“Gio’s pitching tomorrow and he’d have normal rest for Sunday,” Johnson said. “I figure, put our best foot forward. And Roark would be available out of the ‘pen, whereas Gio wouldn’t.”
The Nationals will officially be eliminated from the NL Wild Card race with any combination of two losses or two wins by the Pirates and Reds, but Johnson suggested that won’t alter his pitching plan for the season’s final week.
“I still figure on putting my best foot forward, either way,” he said.
Thus, Roark is making the final start of a surprising rookie season tonight, trying to improve to 8-0 while also lowering his 1.08 ERA. The 26-year-old right-hander has impressed club officials, who didn’t necessarily consider him a significant part of their future plans but now believe he deserves consideration for the No. 5 starter’s job next spring.
Roark also could open next season as a long reliever in the Nationals’ bullpen and de facto No. 6 starter in case of emergency.
“He has pitched so good either way,” Johnson said. “He was pitching good down at Triple-A, and he just carried it up here. He’s got a pretty good arsenal: curveball, slider, changeup, fastball. We’ll see how it finishes out. But that’ll be somebody else’s [decision].”
The Nationals’ rotation the rest of this season will include Gonzalez starting Tuesday night against the Cardinals, with Jordan Zimmermann seeking his 20th win on Wednesday afternoon. Stephen Strasburg will make his final start Friday night in Arizona, with Dan Haren on Saturday and Gonzalez pitching Sunday’s finale.
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT IN
ON THE RADIO
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
Follow us on Twitter
- Bryce Harper has tickets to the Super Bowl
- 2015 outlook: Detroit Tigers
- MLB's Manfred: Montreal has helped case for return of baseball
- Nats roster preview: Yunel Escobar
- Final thoughts on the Max Scherzer signing
- Veteran C John Buck signs with Braves, his eighth MLB team
- 2015 MLB roster outlook: Colorado Rockies
- How big of a haul could the Nats get for trading Stephen Strasburg?
- New MLB commissioner Manfred suggests banning defensive shifts
- Washington Nationals 2015 roster preview: Ian Desmond