Matt Williams shuffles Nationals starting rotation

Jordan Zimmermann (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

Jordan Zimmermann is set to face the Marlins on Wednesday. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

With two days off in the past week, Manager Matt Williams reorganized the Nationals’ starting rotation. Gio Gonzalez will pitch the opening game of the three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, followed by Jordan Zimmermann on Wednesday and Stephen Strasburg on Thursday. Tanner Roark will pitch the opening game of the weekend series against the Braves in Atlanta and Taylor Jordan on Saturday.

None of the starters will be working on short rest.

Because of the days off, the injury to Doug Fister and Zimmermann’s flu during the opening week, the Nationals’ starting rotation isn’t in the originally conceived order.  Williams ensured that the Nationals’ best three starters — Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Strasburg — pitch every five days. The Nationals want as many starts out of them as possible.

Roark, who was warming in the bullpen during Sunday’s game and threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, will have eight days in between starts while Jordan will have six. Williams said Roark’s success in a small sample against Atlanta — no runs allowed in 13 innings — was not a factor in setting the rotation.

“You certainly want your No. 1  going as many times during the course of a season as you can,” Williams said. “There’s no set plan in that regard because there are further off days coming and we just don’t know. [Strasburg's] workload may get to the point where we’ve got to get him an extra day. But as of right now it’s on normal rest and we’re going to keep it that way as much as possible. From now until the end of the month we’ve got a pretty good stretch of games in a row. So that’s the way we’ve set it up.”

>>> Fister, who has been recovering from a right lat muscle strain, played catch from 120 feet before Tuesday’s game and “felt good,” Williams said. Fister will now rest and his next step in returning to the mound is likely throwing to a catcher from flat ground. After some rest, Williams said Fister could play catch from a long distance again before throwing to a catcher to stretch his arm out “just a touch further.”

Fister last pitched in a game on March 27 when he left a minor league spring training game after only one inning.

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