Stephen Strasburg to start NLDS opener for Washington Nationals


For the first time in his highly-scrutinized big league career, Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg is making a postseason start.

Thursday afternoon, first-year manager Matt Williams announced his probable pitchers for each of the first three games in the National League Division Series, where his team will take on the San Francisco Giants, a team that rolled into the NLDS behind a complete-game shutout by left-hander Madison Bumgarner in the National League Wild Card game Wednesday evening.

For Strasburg, who went 14-11 with a 3.14 ERA for Washington during the regular season, Friday’s start offers his first chance to contribute to his team’s quest for a World Series title after being held out of the postseason in the 2012 NLDS after he hit his innings-limit earlier in the year. This season, the right-hander broke the 200-strikeout plateau for the first time in a big way, leading the league with 242 punchouts in 215 innings of work. In his first five big league seasons, which have been marred by injury at times, the 26-year-old has notched 746 strikeouts in 649 1/3 innings pitched – good for 10.3 SO/9.

At the team’s presser Thursday afternoon, Strasburg said he’s ready for the start.

"“I just feel like I’ve gotten stronger physically as the season went on,” said Strasburg."

In the second game, which is slated for Saturday, Williams will turn to Jordan Zimmerman, who made history with the first Nationals no-hitter to cap his regular season. He narrowly missed out on 200 innings pitched, totaling 199 2/3 on the season, pitching to the tune of a 14-5 mark with a 3.25 ERA, while leading the league by averaging a mere 1.3 BB/9. He also earned his second-straight National League All-Star selection, as well.

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First-year member of the Washington rotation, Doug Fister, will take the ball in Game Three on the road in San Francisco. The former Tigers’ right-hander missed some time this season, making only 25 starts – but still ranked seventh in the league with 16 wins to go along with a career-best 2.41 ERA and 4.08 SO/BB ratio.

Other potential starting options in the postseason for Williams include left-hander Gio Gonzalez (10-10, 3.57 ERA, 27 GS) and young right-hander Tanner Roark (15-10, 2.85 ERA, 31 GS).