Because Fister is not a power pitcher like the rest of the rotation, Williams said that played a factor in putting him at the end of the rotation. Williams believes Fister will be best equipped to handle the longer wait for his season debut. Fister, who had a 2.41 ERA last season, is slated to start the exhibition game in D.C. on April 4 against the Yankees.
Because there are three off-days in the next week and a half, the Nationals have to get creative to keep starters sharp. Williams said an option is to have Gonzalez stay behind in Florida when the team heads north. Based on an every-fifth-day schedule, Gonzalez would have to throw on April 5 to stay active. Gonzalez had a 3.57 ERA last season, the worst of the Nationals’ starters but he endured his first-ever shoulder injury and has been throwing well this spring.
Should health issues arise, Williams said the off-days allow for tinkering in the order. Strasburg is starting on Saturday in Port St. Lucie, his first since he twisted his left ankle last week. He is on pace to start the final spring training game in Florida, on April 3 in Tampa against the Yankees.
Scherzer will make his final spring start Monday on the minor league side, a more controlled environment so that he can hit his 95-pitch limit. Taylor Jordan, now in minor league camp, will make the major league spring start instead.
Zimmermann, who was the Nationals’ best starter last season with a 2.66 ERA, gets the second game of the season against the Mets. He said he isn’t bothered that he didn’t get a chance to start opening day; he’s happy to pitch anywhere. Strasburg, too, said he had no problem with where he started.
“Anyone of us could start opening day and I’m not a guy that’s gonna get mad about not being able to start as long as I’m going out there every five days,” Zimmermann said on Friday. “That’s all that matters.”