As of Thursday afternoon, Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker was unwilling to name the Nats’ starter for Game 2 of their NLDS matchup with the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. As he explained it, it wasn’t the Nats trying to be mysterious, they just hadn’t decided who would get the nod.
“We just haven't decided yet,” Baker said when asked once again if a decision had been made. “I mean, you know, we're just thinking of as many scenarios as we can, and if things go great and if things go poorly, and that's why we haven't, you know, decided on it yet.
“[Pitching coach] Mike Maddux and [GM Mike] Rizzo and myself, we'll probably get together even this afternoon to discuss that. It would be easy if we had [Stephen] Strasburg.”
Strasburg has been throwing on flat ground as he works his way back to full strength after suffering a flexor mass strain in early September, so with the right-hander as of now unavailable, the Nationals had to make a decision on who would go in Game 2.
“We just have to decide before I tell you,” Baker joked, “and we haven't made a decision yet. I know the Dodgers have made their decision, but we haven't made our decision yet because we're conferring back and forth on pros and cons of pitching at home, pitching away, you know, following [Max] Scherzer, possibility of a Game 4, Game 5.
“I mean, we are a little bit banged up in our pitching staff. Like I say, it would be very easy if we had Strasburg, I can tell you that right now.
“But as it is right now, no, it's not a secret. We are not trying to hide anything from you. Just we haven't decided yet.”
Over the last twenty-four hours, however, they apparently made the final decision.
It’s going to be Tanner Roark in Game 2 of the NLDS in Nationals Park and Gio Gonzalez in Game 3 when the series shifts to the West Coast and Dodger Stadium.
Roark, 30, was (16-10) over 34 games (33 starts) this season, with a 2.83 ERA, a 3.79 FIP, 73 walks (3.13 BB/9) and 172 Ks (7.37 K/9) in 210 IP, over which he held hitters to a combined .227/.309/.330 line against (as a starter).
Gonzalez, 31, was (11-11) in 32 starts with a 4.57 ERA, a 3.76 FIP, 59 walks (2.99 BB/9) and 171 Ks (8.68 K/9) in 117 1⁄3 IP, holding left-handed hitters to a .240/.302/.331 line and right-handed hitters to a .261/.333/.423 line.
Baker and the Nationals have to be hoping the left-hander will be effective against LA after an up-and-down season on the mound, especially considering that the Dodgers’ left-hand heavy lineup finished the season with a .213/.290/.332 line against lefties this season, good for 15th/15th/15th across the line in the National League.