Zimmermann to start for Nats home opener

Zimmermann to start for Nats home opener
April 4, 2014, 10:15 am
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[Updated 10:57 p.m.]

The Nationals have listed Jordan Zimmermann as their starting pitcher for today's home opener against the Braves.

Zimmermann, who was scratched from yesterday's start in New York with a nasty stomach virus, came home early and was hopeful of pitching this game. It appears his condition has improved enough to take the mound this afternoon.

Manager Matt Williams said Zimmermann broke his fever late Thursday night, and should be good to go for the start. He will warm up and see how he feels later in the morning. If he does not feel well, Craig Stammen will take his place.

"He said that he feels good, 100 times better today than he felt yesterday," Williams said. "He said he's good to go and we'll have to evaluate him this morning and make sure. As of now we're just going to see how he is. He's scheduled to pitch, but that could change. We'll figure out how he's feeling right now. I'm sure he'll get heated up a little bit and see how he reacts to that before he goes out to warm up."

Had Zimmermann not been available, Nationals manager Matt Williams would have faced a significant dilemma. Tanner Roark, today's originally scheduled starter, pitched six innings yesterday to beat the Mets. Ross Detwiler, a potential emergency starter given his history, pitched two innings in relief of Roark, making him unavailable.

No. 5 starter Taylor Jordan threw a simulated game Tuesday, putting him in line for Sunday's start but eliminating him from the conversation today. It's an unusual situation no matter the time, but especially just three games into a season.

"It is what it is, that's the beauty of baseball. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. These guys are human and they do get sick. If we have to do that, we have to do it. We have no choice. Hopefully that's not a question today. We'll see how he feels."

[MORE: To take back the NL East, Nats must beat Braves]

Here's the full starting lineup against Atlanta right-hander David Hale, just announced by the Nationals...

CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Jordan Zimmermann

You probably noticed Harper is back batting sixth. Williams was asked again about that choice and explained it as a temporary move.

"It doesn't mean anything when Bryce hits sixth. It doesn't mean he's not a fantastic player. He was hitting second yesterday," Williams said. "Bryce's timing is a tick off right now. We put him in the two-hole yesterday and I think his swing is coming. He hit a couple of balls hard the times he was up yesterday. At any point during the course of a season, Bryce could get hot. Today's opportunity for him is multiple men in scoring position."