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Rotation set for weekend series vs. Dodgers

Jul 16, 2015, 3:28 PM EDT

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[UPDATE AT 11:30 P.M. — The Dodgers changed their rotation order Thursday night. Mike Bolsinger will now start Friday against Jordan Zimmermann, with Clayton Kershaw starting Saturday against Doug Fister. Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer remain the Sunday starters.]

The Nationals will give the ball to Jordan Zimmermann first out of the All-Star break, sending the right-hander to the mound Friday night against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the opener of a star-studded weekend series.

Doug Fister, whose turn before the break was skipped, will start Saturday afternoon against fellow right-hander Mike Bolsinger. All of that will be a mere prelude to Sunday’s series finale, which pits All-Stars and Cy Young Award contenders Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke against each other at Nationals Park.

The Nationals could have elected to start Scherzer right out of the break, given that he would have been on regular rest after starting last Sunday’s first-half finale in Baltimore. But the club chose to give its ace another two days to regroup after attending (but not pitching in) the All-Star Game in Cincinnati.

Scherzer still winds up in the highest-profile matchup of the weekend, putting his 2.11 ERA and MLB-best 0.78 WHIP up against Greinke and his MLB-best 1.39 ERA, not to mention 35 2/3 consecutive-innings scoreless streak. Greinke did start Tuesday’s All-Star Game, allowing a leadoff homer to Mike Trout but striking out four over two solid innings.

Sunday’s finale may draw the most headlines, but Friday’s second-half opener would otherwise be touted as one of the better pitching matchups out there. Kershaw hasn’t been able to duplicate his Cy Young numbers from last season, but he still owns a 2.85 ERA and NL-best 160 strikeouts. Zimmermann, meanwhile, enters the second half with an 8-5 record and 3.22 ERA, with 14 quality starts out of 18 overall appearances.

Fister will be taking the mound Saturday after a 12-day break, his last turn in the rotation having been skipped as a result of a rainout against the Reds. The right-hander has been a bit inconsistent since returning from a forearm strain, going 3-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 11 total starts.

Bolsinger has emerged as a surprisingly effective member of the Dodgers rotation this season. The 27-year-old right-hander is 4-3 with a 3.08 ERA in 13 starts.

The Nationals haven’t announced their rotation plans beyond the weekend yet, but they are now set up to pitch Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark (filling in for the injured Stephen Strasburg) and Zimmermann in next week’s series against the second-place Mets.

  1. rlndtln - Jul 16, 2015 at 3:53 PM

    No Max for Mets series.Gio,Roark and JZIM against Mets.Would have referred Max Friday and next Wednesday as each game with the Mets is equal to 2.

    • virginiascopist - Jul 16, 2015 at 3:57 PM

      JZim got the win against the Mets in game 2 of the year, and Gio got the win in early May in the first of the pair of 1-0 victories. Hopefully we’ll be in good hands.

    • bowdenball - Jul 16, 2015 at 4:02 PM

      That’s not entirely true. I think you’re probably right that only the Mets present a real threat to the Nats in the East, but there’s also the wild card. Scherzer will face the Pirates as a result of this rotation, so he does give us a boost in that race. Hopefully it won’t be an issue, but if it is the Pirates and Giants are the teams to beat.

      Regardless, I think you’re obviously right that if fatigue were not a factor the best plan would be to have Scherzer pitch Friday and then against the Mets. But presumably Williams and the rest of the Nats’ decisionmakers know that as well, and that means that fatigue is a factor here.

      • bowdenball - Jul 16, 2015 at 4:02 PM

        And the Cubs. Don’t want to upset any North Siders!

      • masterfishkeeper - Jul 16, 2015 at 4:31 PM

        Or, if not fatigue, that it nevertheless would be good to lighten the load on Scherzer now, because we’ll need him in October (and 2016-2021).

  2. rlndtln - Jul 16, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    We better not put our hopes on a one game playoff in Pittsburgh.

    • NatsLady - Jul 16, 2015 at 5:10 PM

      Didn’t we sweep them?

    • bowdenball - Jul 16, 2015 at 5:20 PM

      Of course not. But we also better not assume that we’ll just win the division going away and not concern ourselves with that possibility.

      Also, beating Pittsburgh would help us to possibly HOST a hypothetical wild card game against them, which would obviously be preferable.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 16, 2015 at 5:23 PM

        And don’t discount the possibility that Pittsburgh could end up winning the NL Central. They are currently 2-1/2 games back.

  3. senators5 - Jul 16, 2015 at 5:35 PM

    Beat the Cardinals..Really?

    • rayvil01 - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:06 PM

      The Cardinals are not invincible. Really. Witness this past weekend.

      • hokiepokster92 - Jul 17, 2015 at 9:43 AM

        +1

  4. rlndtln - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:04 PM

    Either way we would be at there home for a suicide one game.Need to win the division.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:08 PM

      Wild card winners have been doing better than Division winners lately in the WS sweepstakes. It doesn’t matter. The Division series is five games, lose the first one and you’re in a huge hole. Baseball is just like hockey now. Just get in and hope for a hot goalie.

      • veejh - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:15 PM

        Not really. It takes more than 1 in baseball to win. A hot goalie can actually win a SC for their team.

      • rayvil01 - Jul 16, 2015 at 9:03 PM

        Tell that to the Giants and Mad Bum.

    • ehay2k - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:04 PM

      More like checkers!

  5. masterfishkeeper - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:48 PM

    Looking ahead, the Mets will throw Harvey, DeGrom, and Syndergard in DC. Be nice for the Nats to win the series despite that.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 16, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    “Met rotation is stacked for Nats series – with the Big 3 – for a reason: “For us to stay in this race we’ve got to beat Washington,” TC said”

  7. Dave - Jul 16, 2015 at 9:46 PM

    Dodgers changed their rotation. Saturday will be Fister versus Kershaw. Just scrolled by on MLB Network. Yikes!

  8. rlndtln - Jul 16, 2015 at 10:11 PM

    Thats why everybody is smarter than us.I said earlier here we should have used Max friday and then had him for the Mets on Wednesday.Every game against the Mets counts as 2.Imagine the Mets are holding DeGrom and Harvey.Now we face Kershaw,Greinke,Harvey,DeGrom and Syndegard in a row.I have been saying trouble is on the horizon and they called me Nostradomus.We are in big trouble facing this and then 4 in Pittsburgh with our patched up lineup.Give the Mets credit for thinking outside the box something MW will never do.

    • Bruxtun - Jul 17, 2015 at 9:23 AM

      “Thats why everybody is smarter than us. I said…”

      Oh god, what a tool

  9. adcwonk - Jul 16, 2015 at 10:24 PM

    Thats why everybody is smarter than us

    If everybody is smarter than us, then how did we end up with the 4th best record in the NL for the first half while 1/2 of our lineup was on the DL?

    Perhaps we’re dumb in extra innings — that’s where managing is a bigger factor, right? Oh, wait, we’re 5-1 in extra innings.

    OK, one run games, that’s the ticket. Dumb managers will end up losing a bunch of them, right? Huh — but we’re 15-10 in one-run games.

    Look — with 75 games still left to play, we don’t need to be messing with our pitching lineup so much. We just need to score a decent amount of runs. And maybe giving a little bit extra rest to our ace, who’s pitched a whole lot of innings (he leads the entire NL in innings pitched), and who gave up five runs in this only playoff start last year, is more important than making sure he faces this Mets when it’s still only July.

  10. rlndtln - Jul 16, 2015 at 10:39 PM

    Everybody is too complacent that we can win no matter who is playing.I have watched this game more years than you are born.I see trouble ahead.You can not win with this lineup over the long haul.Harp carried us for a couple of months but will be hard pressed against this pitching especially when these aces are smart enough to pitch around Harp knowing Ramos and Robinson will not beat them.We have too many weak hitters to go thru the next 10 games and the tough month ahead.There is no sign of Zim or Rendon to help for this tough stretch.Werth will be useless for the next month when we need him.I hope I am wrong but these injuries are going to kill us against top notch pitching.The real question is why?Why for 2 years we can not sustain our lineup.The truth is our real team is this patched up one that apparently will not get healthy.

    • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 16, 2015 at 11:12 PM

      well…
      Truth is, the future doesn’t exist, therefore all predictions are fantasy, not reality. The only reality in this context is up in the right-hand corner of this page: wins and losses in the books. Everything else, we’ll see. You may yet be right. Nobody knows.

      • rlndtln - Jul 16, 2015 at 11:21 PM

        The past will always be a good indicator of the future.The team were are playing with minus Span,Rendon,Werth and Zim will logically have a difficult or near impossible time scoring runs against these 5 pitchers minus Friday night.We have not probably in team history faced this arsenal in a row.Pittsburgh over the weekend will be tough at there place.We lost 3of4 last year when we were injured.I would have thought by now Rendon and Zim would be back.We never hear about Rendon who I fear is lost for the season.Hope is not where I thought we would be at this point.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 17, 2015 at 12:40 AM

      Wow, you want a side of fries with that DOOOOOM?

      Look, if you want to feel smart and live to pat yourself on the back as a baseball fan, predict doom. Almost always you will eventually be right, and that’s the one you’ll remember and cling to. Even if your average actually sucks, take heart – we don’t track all the times the doom was wrong. Life’s too short for that.

      I’ll stick with cautious optimism, thanks. Combined with a bit of humility in realizing that just because I can’t see the logic, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

      • rlndtln - Jul 17, 2015 at 1:33 AM

        I hope I am wrong.Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

  11. mauimo22 - Jul 16, 2015 at 10:40 PM

    MW has never impressed me by being a cerebral guy. That being said it comes down to pitching, hits, runs and error-free baseball. Nats should take both series vs. LA and NYM if they play soundly. If they play sloppy and cannot score more than 4 runs a game they’re likely to get swept twice!

    #GoNats

  12. Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 16, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    Nostradamus??

  13. natsjackinfl - Jul 17, 2015 at 5:15 AM

    Just checking to see if I can post off my new phone.

  14. Dave - Jul 17, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    Let it be noted that I scooped Mark Z. on the rotation change at 9:46 PM.

    Stupid Matt Williams for not starting Scherzer on Friday, eh? This topic almost broke my Twitter timeline last night.

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