There are still a few moving parts but the Nationals post-All-Star break rotation is beginning to take shape.
One thing is for sure: Livan Hernandez will start against the Atlanta Braves’ Tim Hudson on Friday night. John Lannan will most likely go Saturday, provided he doesn’t suffer any ill-effects from the nasal contusion he suffered Friday night.
After that, though, Nationals manager Davey Johnson was both unsure and unwilling to reveal how things would line up. Obviously if Lannan is unable to go Saturday it would affect who pitches Sunday, etc.
Chances are that Jordan Zimmermann will become the team’s fifth starter — in name only — as they attempt to limit his innings to 160. If that’s the case, he will pitch Tuesday in Houston but the plan for how the team will then move forward with him is still up in the air.
“I’ve heard the plan and I’m not that comfortable with it but we’ll have the break to discuss that with him,” Johnson said. “I’m not quite set on it.”
Johnson would like to get some medical opinions on whether it would be better for Zimmermann to stay on regular rest each time through and simply be shut down once he hits 160 innings or if they should attempt to stretch him out, and give him an extra day here or there between starts, to get them to when rosters expand on September 1.
There’s also the matter of the fact that Zimmermann has been the team’s best pitcher this season and the more he pitches, the more the Nationals have chances to win games.
“He’s obviously pitched a lot better than a fifth starter,” Johnson said. “So, if we’re trying to win… but don’t get me started. That’s a whole other scenario.
“I don’t know if this is a medical decision that he needs extra rest or if we’re going to shut him down at 160 innings, is it better to keep him regular and then shut him down? There’s all kinds of thought process that goes into it. It’s probably made above me by smart doctors but from a baseball standpoint, I want to win. I’m thinking of winning.”