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Nationals' rotation peaking at right time for postseason run: Game 1 starter announced Thursday?

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The Washington Nationals' starting rotation posted a combined 2.25 ERA over the last month of the season when the Nats went 19-8. Matt Williams and the Nationals' starters talked about preparing fo the postseason over the last week.

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Stephen Strasburg wrapped up his fifth major league campaign with a month of September which saw the 26-year-old right-hander post 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.

Over his last three starts, the Washington Nationals' '09 no.1 overall pick put up a streak of 20 scoreless innings, over which he held opposing hitters to a .159/.197/.206 line.

This time around, unlike in 2012, Strasburg will be available for the NLDS. He's ready.

"I'm really excited," Strasburg told reporters after throwing six scoreless against the Miami Marlins in his final regular season start. "I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and give it everything I have."

"The good thing about where we're at is we have some time to rest, make sure that everybody is on rest and everybody can be ready to go." -Matt Williams on preparing for the NLDS

Though the Nationals haven't announced when he'll make his postseason debut, Strasburg said he was focused and ready to get back on the mound and continue the impressive run he's been on.

"Just keep doing what you're doing," he said. "That's all you can do. So, not really thinking about it too much, just going to get back to work tomorrow and get ready for whenever I make the start."

Though he'd previously planned on announcing the postseason rotation on Sunday, Nats' skipper Matt Williams said this weekend that he would wait until the Nationals know who they'll match up with in the NLDS before saying which one of his starters will get the ball in Game 1.

"We won't know who we're going to play until Wednesday," he explained.

"So it certainly wouldn't happen before then, because we simply don't know. The good thing about where we're at is we have some time to rest, make sure that everybody is on rest and everybody can be ready to go."

"We just want to make sure we know who we play and try to make the best decisions we can to try to combat that opponent."

Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, who pitched the last two regular season games are lined up to go on five days' rest in the first two games which take place on Friday and Saturday in D.C.

Doug Fister, who would make sense as the Game 3 starter as a veteran with postseason experience, was asked after he wrapped up his first campaign in the nation's capital how we would stay locked in over what could be a long wait before his first NLDS start for the Nats.

"There will be things that we're doing," Fister said, "with the three workout days I think it is, we've got bullpens and everything else that we can do. It's going to be a matter of staying fresh mentally and physically just continuing to take each day doing whatever I need to do."

Fister's 2014 campaign ended with a complete game shutout against Miami and a final month of the season which saw the 30-year-old right-hander put up a 1.87 ERA, a 4.11 FIP, eight walks (2.14 BB/9) and 18 Ks (4.81 K/9) over 33 ⅔ IP in which he held opposing hitters to a .205/.265/.336 line.

"You want to pitch well at the end of the year, and I feel like we're all doing that, we're peaking at the right time..." -Jordan Zimmermann on Nats' rotation finishing out the year

Jordan Zimmermann, 28, whose sixth major league season wrapped up with the Nationals' first no-hitter on Sunday, put together an impressive September as well with a 1.32 ERA, 2.43 FIP, four walks (1.06 BB/9) and 34 Ks (9.00 K/9) in 34 IP in which he held hitters to a .172/.211/.279 line.

"You want to pitch well at the end of the year," Zimmermann said. "And I feel like we're all doing that, we're peaking at the right time and hopefully we take it into Friday and Saturday."

"The thing that I'm most pleased with is their approach to the whole thing," Williams said of the work his starters have done as the season has wrapped up.

"It's aggressive. It's making pitches, and you certainly never ask for that type of finish to a season but their approach has been fantastic and they're ready for the next step."

Gio Gonzalez, one of two starters along with right-hander Tanner Roark who could ended up starting in Game 4 (if necessary), straightened things out down the stretch and finished his third season with the Nationals with a month of September which saw the 28-year-old left-hander put up a 2.48 ERA, a 2.18 FIP, five walks (1.38 BB/9) and 31 Ks (8.54 K/9) in 32 ⅔ IP in which he held opposing hitters to a .178/.218/.265 line.

Roark wrapped his second major league campaign up with a month of September in which he posted a 2.45 ERA, a 3.29 FIP, two walks (0.70 BB/9) and 14 Ks (4.91 K/9) in 25 ⅔ IP in which he held hitters to a .237/.255/.354 line.

"There's nothing bad about that," Williams said on Sunday afternoon of the way the Nationals as a team finished the regular season, with a 19-8 month of September over which the Nationals' starters put together a major league-best 2.25 ERA as a rotation.

"I think the guys are focused on continuing to do things right," he said. "Continuing to play the game well and that's all we can ask as a staff, is that they just keep the intensity up. It will be challenge over the next four days to do that, but we have plans for that. But they've done a nice job of keeping that intensity regardless of the situation they're in."

On Wednesday, the Nationals will find out if they'll be playing the San Francisco Giants or the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLDS.

On Thursday, they'll announce who starts the first game of their second postseason run in the last three years.