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Zimmermann to start Wednesday, Strasburg on Thursday

Apr 8, 2014, 6:20 PM EST

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The Nationals are tweaking the order of their rotation, bumping Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg up to face the Marlins the next two days while pushing Tanner Roark back to face the Braves on Friday night.

Using Monday’s day off as an opportunity to reconfigure things, manager Matt Williams decided to push his top two right-handers up one day apiece, keeping them on a normal, five-day schedule.

“You look at the season and say: ‘If we have an off day, where can we switch things, keeping guys on normal (rest)?’” Williams said. “So that’s all. Just a function of rest and the ability (to do it).”

The Nationals had already been forced to shake up their rotation plans last week when Zimmermann came down with a stomach virus and couldn’t make his season debut Thursday in New York. This move puts the 19-game winner back where he originally was slotted, behind Gio Gonzalez.

Williams could have simply put Roark back in his original spot as well, having the young right-hander start Thursday’s series finale against Miami. Instead, Strasburg is now being pushed up to make that start, with Roark pushed back to open this weekend’s series in Atlanta. Taylor Jordan and Gonzalez will start Saturday and Sunday at Turner Field.

Thus, Strasburg has been on a strict, five-day pitching schedule to open the season, a plan that could stay intact as the Nationals attempt to squeeze an extra start or two out of their ace.

“You certainly want your No. 1 going as many times during the course of a season as you can,” Williams said. “There’s no set plan in that regard, because there are further off-days coming and we just don’t know. His workload may get to the point where we’ve got to get him an extra day. But as of right now, it’s on normal rest and we’re going to keep it that way as much as possible.”

For what it’s worth, Strasburg has struggled at times in his career against the Braves, especially in Atlanta. In 13 career starts vs. the Braves, he is 3-5 with a 3.86 ERA. He’s 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA in six career starts at Turner Field.

Meanwhile, injured No. 4 starter Doug Fister threw off flat ground from 120 feet Tuesday and reported no problems with his strained lat muscle. Williams said the right-hander will likely throw to a catcher off flat ground soon, then progress to throwing off a bullpen mound.

Once he’s ready to face live hitters, Fister will likely build his arm up slowly, making anywhere from 3-to-5 rehab starts as though he was still in spring training.

  1. stoatva - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    Since Stras has been less than consistently overwhelming his first two times out, I’d rather see him face the fish and let Roark battle the barves.

    Because he will battle.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      Are you implying that Strasburg won’t battle? He might be offended by that insinuation but I’m not inclined to argue.

      • stoatva - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        I thought Strasburg did a good job of sucking it up and keeping his team in the game against the Mets. I regard that as a positive sign. But at this point in the season I’d rather see Stras try to dominate the fish, and Roark battle the barves.

    • pdowdy83 - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:45 PM

      I would have to say Stras battled pretty dang hard on opening day.

      • stoatva - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        I may owe you a coke.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Apr 8, 2014 at 7:03 PM

        I don’t know that I’d call giving up four runs in the first two innings “battling.” Sounds more like praising a man for treading water after swimming out over his head. And the Braves are a more experienced, gutsier team than the Mets — with Kimbrel. Four runs behind them and you start getting measured for a shroud.

      • kirbs3256 - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:35 AM

        I was kind of hoping that Zim’nn would get the “flu” again and make a start in Atlanta. But if we can take a 7-2 or 6-3 into the weekend i will be perfectly happy. I’m glad the grind has started. I can’t stand the random day games.

  2. cvillegoodtimes - Apr 9, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    I am so happy that MW is just keeping the best starters on a 5 day schedule and pushing Roark back. This will make sure that the best pitchers pitch more games. Also, when Roark (or whoever) is pushed back he will be available to pitch in relief instead of doing side work during the off days. Makes the rotation better and the bullpen better.

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