- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2014

Second-half statistics say otherwise, but Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams believes Rafael Soriano has thrown the ball well recently. That’s why he is on the postseason roster.

“He’s one of the reasons that we’re here,” Williams said. “Was the premier closer in the first half of the season. Went through mechanical issues and has worked diligently to resolve those. I think he’s where he needs to be. Gave him opportunities late in the season to pitch and he pitched well.”

Soriano’s ERA since the All-Star break is 6.48. It was 0.97 prior. His ERA spiked in September at 7.56. After losing his job as closer, Soriano was shut down to fix mechanical issues. The Nationals then eased him back to the mound. In his last five outings, Soriano has allowed three earned runs in 4 ⅔ innings.

“He’s got everybody’s confidence,” Williams said. “It never wavered.”

Williams also chose to go with two left-handed relievers, Matt Thornton and Jerry Blevins, instead of the three the Nationals carried the last couple months of the season. That meant Ross Detwiler was not part of the 25-man postseason roster.

Ryan Zimmerman will be used as the top right-handed option off the bench. The Giants are expected to start left-hander Madison Bumgarner in Game 3, which means Zimmerman is likely to crack the starting lineup. Until then, he’ll be deployed from the bench.

Tanner Roark, who threw 198 ⅔ innings this season, will also be in the bullpen. William said Roark, who came out of the bullpen nine times in 2013, can be used at the start of an inning, in the middle of it and with runners on.

Former National Michael Morse (oblique) was left off the Giants’ postseason roster. Morse helped the Nationals to their last playoff appearance in 2012.



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