The announcement came as no surprise, but Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams finally, officially said 26-year-old right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound tomorrow afternoon in Game 1 of the NLDS with the San Francisco Giants.
"Stephen Strasburg will start Game 1 for us," the first-year skipper said.
He also named the starters for Games 2 and 3.
"Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister into Game 3," Williams said.
As for Game 4? Williams said he knew who would get the nod, but said, "... we'll wait for a later date to announce that one."
Strasburg finished his fifth MLB season at (14-11) with a 3.14 ERA, a 2.94 FIP, 43 walks (1.80 BB/9) and 242 Ks (10.13 K/9) in 215 innings pitched over which he was worth a career-high +4.3 fWAR.
Williams said it was Strasburg's strong finish to the season that led him to go with the righty in Game 1.
"Over the last month, everybody has been really good," Williams explained. "They've pitched really well. And so Stephen in particular has gotten stronger as the his month has gone on.
"His fastball velocity has ticked up each month during the course of the season and we all forget about the fact that he had some surgery last offseason, and it took him some time to get back to where he really wanted to be, and I think he's proven of the last four-to-six-weeks that he feels good. His location has been good. He's healthy and stong and he's looking forward to this opportunity."
Strasburg put up a 1.13 ERA, a 1.91 FIP, three walks (0.84 BB/9), 32 Ks (9.00 K/9) and a .189/.223/.278 line against in 32 IP in September.
Asked about Williams' comments on his velocity ticking up as the season went along, Strasburg said it was really more of a start-to-start thing.
"There's some games where your velocity is down," he told reporters today, "some games where your velocity is up. I think the biggest thing is just going out there and trying to make good pitches. It doesn't really matter how hard it's coming out, you've just got to execute."
Williams declined to comment on Strasburg's reaction to learning he would start Game 1 of the division series, opting to let the right-hander share his own thoughts on getting the nod.
"I do know this," Williams said though, "I know he's ready, and he's excited about the opportunity. So I'll let him speak further on that."
Strasburg said he was excited to get the ball in the series opener.
"I think it wasn't an easy decision, by any means. But I think that's a testament to the guys we have in the rotation. I think every single one of them is extremely talented."
Strasburg, when asked, wasn't interested in looking back to the 2012 season, when he was, of course, shut down in September and forced to watch his teammates compete in the first postseason run by a D.C.-based team since 1933.
"I've been asked that question so many times," Strasburg said. "I try not to look back on what it was like two years ago. I"m trying to live in the present and I'm excited for the chance now."
The chance to make a postseason start is something the '09 no.1 overall pick has been looking forward to for a long time.
"I think growing up, I just wanted to see how far I could take the ability God has given me," Strasburg explained. "And I just told myself I wanted to work extremely hard every day and just go out and compete and enjoy the ride, enjoy the ups and downs. There's not too many guys in this game that can say they've pitched in the postseason and have pitched in the playoffs, so I'm just very thankful for the chance.'