Nationals finalize NLDS rotation, roster

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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...

STARTING PITCHERS (4)
1. LHP Gio Gonzalez
2. RHP Jordan Zimmermann
3. RHP Edwin Jackson
4. LHP Ross Detwiler

RELIEF PITCHERS (8)
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

STARTING LINEUP (8)
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

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

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Need to Know: Is there a surprise coming for the Redskins defensive coordinator job?

Need to Know: Is there a surprise coming for the Redskins defensive coordinator job?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 22, 95 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 38
NFL free agency starts 46
First Sunday of 2017 season 231

Sunday morning quick hitters

Talk that Greg Manusky is the favorite to get the promotion to Redskins defensive coordinator seems to be based more on deductive reasoning than from any reports from Ashburn. I think he is likely to be the guy but I’m not sure that there won’t be a surprise selection for the job.

The four-year, $42 million contract extension the Rams gave WR Tavon Austin will set the market for DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Both of their expiring contracts averaged about $8 million per year so they could be in line for healthy raises the year after turning 30. As in other sports, the market is often set by what your dumbest competitior is willing to pay. 

I didn’t give a second thought to leaving DeAngelo Hall off my projection of the defensive roster for the coming season. He said that he would be willing to redo his contract, which calls for him to make $4.25 million this year. That’s fine but I think that the organization will look at the 32 games he missed in the last three seasons combined and decide that they can’t keep a player that they can’t rely on at any price.

How hot is Jay Gruden’s seat in 2017? Assuming he keeps his quarterback, I think that he will be fine with a 10-win season and he will be toast with double-digit losses. The tough call will be if they finish 8-8 or even 9-7 with a playoff miss.

There was a lot of talk about how the Redskins’ salary cap spending on defense last year ($36 million) was dwarfed by what was spent on offense ($78 million). As of right now, the Redskins’ spending is about even, with $57.3 million going to offense and $59.2 million to defense. We’ll see how even the expenditures wind up being when the season starts in September.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Morning tip: Wizards' Brooks confident in Beal despite shooting slump

Morning tip: Wizards' Brooks confident in Beal despite shooting slump

Right in the middle of the best season of his career so far, Wizards guard Bradley Beal is mired in his worst shooting slump as an NBA player.

In their loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, Beal shot just 4-for-15 from the field and 0-for-7 from three-point range. In his last three games, Beal is just 12-of-42 (.286) from the field and 1-of-21 from three.

Beal, in fact, has now missed 19 straight three-point attempts. That's the longest three-point slump of his career. 

Beal hasn't hit a three now in two straight games, each time going 0-for-7. That follows a career-best streak of 30 straight games in which he had at least one three. And this current three-game slump comes after he went 14-of-22 (63.6%) in four outings.

Going without a three for two straight games matches the second-longest draught of Beal's career. His longest was five games, back in December of 2012, his rookie season.

It's just not often you see Beal go this cold and, as a result, he is currently shooting a career-low 38.4 percent from three this season.

Those numbers are ugly, but head coach Scott Brooks believes Beal will snap out of it soon.

"Every player in this league is going to go through some shooting slumps. Hopefully he can get out of it in the next game," Brooks said.

That next game will be Monday in Charlotte, as the Wizards close a three-game road trip against Eastern Conference teams. In order to break out of his recent slide, Beal just needs to keep shooting, Brooks says:

"He’s getting good looks. They aren’t falling for him right now. But I’ve been around Brad for four, five or six months now. He’s diligent in his work. He gets his shots in. He doesn’t change his routine. I think that’s the best way to get out of some missed shots. But he’s getting good looks."

Beal's Saturday night also included two scary moments, both in the fourth quarter. With just over five minutes left, Beal crashed hard to the floor and hit his head on the hardwood.

Later in the quarter, Beal fell in a heap under the basket and grabbed his left knee. It has been a tough few days for Beal, but Brooks is not at all concerned.

"He just needs to keep believing in it becuase I do and his teammates do," he said.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Pistons beat Wizards on last second tip-in]