Matt Williams was clear last night that he thinks there are several pitchers in the Washington Nationals' rotation who could have gotten the Opening Day assignment. Jordan Zimmermann for example? Was he considered?
"We have a number of guys that could fill that position," the Nats' first-year skipper explained as he made the announcement. "We spoke to Jordan. He's good with wherever and whenever he pitches. Opening Day is important, but the rest of the games are important too, so he's ready to pitch when it's his turn."
Zimmermann is likely not that upset. Asked earlier this spring if being the Opening Day starter mattered to him, the 27-year-old right-hander said it didn't.
"I don't really care when I pitch to be honest with you," Zimmermann told reporters.
So it's Strasburg who's getting the nod from the Nationals' new manager.
"Stephen Strasburg will pitch for us Opening Day," he said last night. "Just because his experience there. He's done it before. Certainly, the way it's all structured he's in line to do that and he's earned it. So he'll toe that slab for us Opening Day."
• Here's the lineup the Nationals are running out this afternoon in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium:
There was a lot of discussion last night about the lineup that took on the Houston Astros looking like the Nationals' Opening Day lineup. Williams was asked directly if it was close to the way he expected to line things up every day.
"Yeah, it's close," he said. "Again, it varies from pitcher to pitcher, who we're facing. Team to team potentially. We can certainly flip-flop guys to different spots within the order, but yeah, it's pretty close."
"All of that sabermetric information will certainly play a part," Williams continued, "depending on how those matchups look and how our guys do against those certain pitchers can have an influence as well."
There are small differences between last night's lineup and this afternoon's. Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmermann are flip-flopped in the 3-4 holes. Danny Espinosa is in at second base instead of Anthony Rendon. How will the lineup look on March 31st?
Game time: 1:05 pm EDT. This afternoon's game is being broadcast on WJFK 1580 AM, and it's also available via MLB.com's Gameday audio.
Who's listening to the Nationals?