VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals have made one minor tweak to their pitching schedule, the final step in getting things lined up for Opening Day next Thursday in Chicago. Stephen Strasburg, who was scheduled to pitch Friday night, will now throw Saturday while Ross Detwiler makes the start against the Miami Marlins on Friday.
That lines up Strasburg to be on regular rest before his start on Opening Day. John Lannan, Saturday’s original starter, will piggy-back Strasburg. Johnson plans to take it easy on all of his starters in their final appearances, holding them to 60-70 pitches.
Lannan will then pitch in relief — as the equivalent of a side session — on Tuesday in the exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park. His first start of the season will come April 10 in New York.
“Rather than have Stras throw 60-70 pitches and then have six days (before his next start) I’m opting to give him the six days from his last start, which was a good one,” Johnson said. “Give him an extra day to recover (from that), then have a short day Saturday and his regular rest for the opener.
“There’s also the possibility we could have weather so rather than have it too long, that’s the reasoning behind that. That was my decision.”
All of their starters aside from Strasburg will be making their first start of the season with an extra day’s rest with scheduled off-days on Wednesday (a workout day) and Friday next week.
Gio Gonzalez will follow Strasburg, making his final spring start on Sunday in Jupiter, and Jordan Zimmermann will pitch Monday in Fort Myers. Edwin Jackson will start the exhibition game at Nationals Park.
Assuming mother nature doesn’t interfere with the Nationals’ schedule, Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmermann will pitch in the series at Chicago. Jackson, Lannan and Strasburg will then start in New York against the Mets and Gonzalez will pitch the home opener on April 12 at Nationals Park. Strasburg’s first home start will be Monday, April 16 against the Houston Astros.