The Nationals tentatively set their starting rotation for the remainder of the regular season on Monday when manager Davey Johnson revealed the team will pitch Stephen Strasburg, Dan Haren and Gio Gonzalez this weekend in Arizona.
Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann will start Tuesday and Wednesday in St. Louis, but that means Monday’s starter, Tanner Roark, will likely be making his final start of the season.
“I’m putting our best foot forward,” Johnson said. “Roark would be available out of the pen whereas Gio wouldn’t. I still figure we’re putting our best foot forward right down the line.”
The Nationals are trying to stave off elimination from postseason contention, opening Monday five games back of the final wild card spot with six games to play, but Johnson said he’s making his plans assuming they will be in it until the end.
The decision, which allows Gonzalez to pitch on regular rest due to Thursday’s off-day, means that Roark will likely cap a remarkable rookie season. He entered Monday’s start at 7-0 with 1.08 ERA and having made a strong statement for consideration to be a part of the Nationals’ 2014 rotation.
“He deserves to be pitching our rotation (right now), I know that for dang sure,” Johnson said.