Nationals finalize NLDS rotation, roster


Nationals finalize NLDS rotation, roster

ST. LOUIS -- The Nationals won a major-league best 98 games this season with a roster and starting rotation that didn't change very much along the way, so they're not going to change much heading into their first-ever postseason series.

Manager Davey Johnson said today his rotation for the National League Division Series against the Cardinals will stand pat. Gio Gonzalez starts Game 1 tomorrow, with Jordan Zimmermann following him on Monday at Busch Stadium. Edwin Jackson will then start Game 3 in Washington on Wednesday, with Ross Detwiler pitching Game 4 on Thursday.

Johnson didn't formally reveal his 25-man roster for the series, but he said there would be no surprises and made it all but clear rookie Christian Garcia would be in the bullpen with John Lannan left off the roster.

In the end, the Nationals felt it best to dance with the guys who got there here in the first place.

"The preparation that you have for a ballclub comes in 162 games in a regular season," Johnson said before his team took the field for a late-afternoon workout. "You really don't do anything different. I don't want to act any different. It's going to be business as usual. We've got no trick plays we're running out there."

In other words, don't expect a surprise appearance by Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander, who was shut down four weeks ago after pitching 159 13 innings for the season, did make the trip with the Nationals and will continue to work out with the club and watch games from the dugout, but he will not be included on the active roster.

The only real decision Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo had to make involved the final spot on the roster. The club could have gone with Lannan, making the lefty a long reliever. It could have kept an extra bench player like rookie Eury Perez or veteran Mark DeRosa.

Ultimately, Johnson and Rizzo decided to go with another power arm, keeping Garcia, the 27-year-old right-hander who in his first 13 big-league appearances posted a 2.13 ERA, 15 strikeouts and only two walks.

"This is what you dream of," said Garcia, who twice had Tommy John surgery and opened this season at Class AA Harrisburg. "When I was rehabbing, the things that helped me get through days when I didn't want to work out was days like this. Being able to pitch in a postseason game, and not just pitch in it, but be somebody in the postseason and make a name for myself."

Rizzo said the pitchers who didn't make the postseason roster -- Lannan, Strasburg, Zach Duke and Chien-Ming Wang -- will remain with the team and continue to stay fresh just in case. Teams are allowed to make roster changes during a series in the event of an injury.

DeRosa, an immensely popular veteran and pseudo-coach at times, also is staying with the club through the postseason. Other position players who didn't make the roster, though, have been sent to Viera, Fla., to keep getting at-bats with the Nationals' fall instructional league team: Perez, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielder Corey Brown.

The decision to start Jackson in Game 3 and Detwiler in Game 4, meanwhile, appeared obvious once the Cardinals -- with a lineup heavy with right-handed hitters -- beat the lefty-loaded Braves in last night's NL Wild Card Game. Johnson had hinted earlier in the week he might consider adding Lannan to the rotation for a series against Atlanta but made it sound today like he planned the Jackson-Detwiler combo all along.

"I kind of like the experience that Edwin Jackson brings," Johnson said of the 28-year-old, who was a member of St. Louis' World Series winning rotation last fall. "So even if it had been Atlanta, I would have probably gone with Jackson."

Johnson, by the way, said he's feeling considerably better after having to depart Wednesday's regular-season finale in the seventh inning after his left leg went numb. Doctors diagnosed the issue originating in his lower vertebrae, and he received a cortisone shot and treatment yesterday. The 69-year-old manager was moving around well today and even played catch with third base coach Bo Porter before the Nationals' workout.

"I feel a heck of a lot better," Johnson said. "I have no pain, just a little stiff back."

Here, then, is what the Nationals' roster for the NLDS will look like...

1. LHP Gio Gonzalez
2. RHP Jordan Zimmermann
3. RHP Edwin Jackson
4. LHP Ross Detwiler

1. RHP Drew Storen
2. RHP Tyler Clippard
3. LHP Sean Burnett
4. RHP Craig Stammen
5. RHP Ryan Mattheus
6. LHP Michael Gonzalez
7. LHP Tom Gorzelanny
8. RHP Christian Garcia

1. RF Jayson Werth
2. CF Bryce Harper
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4. 1B Adam LaRoche
5. LF Michael Morse
6. SS Ian Desmond
7. 2B Danny Espinosa
8. C Kurt Suzuki

1. C Jesus Flores
2. IF Steve Lombardozzi
3. IF Chad Tracy
4. OF Roger Bernadina
5. OF Tyler Moore

Quick Links

Did the Redskins err in trying to make this a "regular" week?

Did the Redskins err in trying to make this a "regular" week?

LONDON—Looking at pictures of the Redskins’ arrival at their downtown hotel made me wonder if the team did the right thing in trying to make the week as close to a “regular” week as possible.

The players were quiet and obviously tired as they arrived. Some people can sleep on a plane, some can’t. It appears that there are more Redskins who can’t. And less than four hours after that video was taken they have to be out on the field practicing to make their final preparations for a game that will be played about 48 hours after those busses pulled up.

It’s not a regular week so trying to pretend that it is amounts to ignoring reality when reality is not convenient. That rarely ends well.  

Some teams head across the pond immediately following their games on Sunday. They get here on Monday and they get a week to get used to the five-hour time difference from the East Coast. By the time Friday rolls around they are ready for a crisp practice and their body clocks are normal when they take the field on Sunday.

Should the Redskins have taken this approach? Would it have been better for them to come here straight from Detroit and do their work here?

Perhaps but there really isn’t any evidence to suggest that a less jet lagged team is necessarily the better team on Sunday. You don’t have to go back any further than last week, in fact, for some anecdotal evidence to the contrary. The Rams came out early the week and the Giants rolled in Friday morning like the Redskins did. Final score, Giants 17, Rams 10.

To be sure, that result may have had more to do with Case Keenum (4 interceptions) being the Rams’ quarterback than it had to do with any sleep patterns.

This week, both teams are working at an equal let lag disadvantage. The Bengals also arrived Friday morning so it should just cancel out.

But if the Redskins have a flat, sluggish performance on Sunday, something they can do for Sunday 1 pm Eastern games in the states, there will be those who question their scheduling for the week. While it may end up being a much-discussed topic it seems unlikely that time zone adjustment will be a factor in the outcome of the game.

Quick Links

With Matt Jones' status in doubt, Redskins sign Mack Brown to roster

With Matt Jones' status in doubt, Redskins sign Mack Brown to roster

In a move that may signal Matt Jones will be held out of Sunday's game against the Bengals, the Redskins announced Friday they promoted Mack Brown from the practice squad to the active roster.

To make room for Brown, the team waived recently signed safety Josh Evans.

The NFL's preseason rushing leader has yet to play in a regular season contest, but he could get his chance in London on Sunday. If Jones is out — he experienced knee soreness at practice on Wednesday and said he had issues cutting laterally — Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson will likely share the workload in his absence, though Brown demonstrated in the exhibitions he's capable of contributing (he ran for 149 yards in Tampa Bay on September 1).

Like Jones, Brown is a University of Florida product. He's 25 years old and first entered the league in 2015.