News went out as the rain fell harder and harder in Washington that Davey Johnson announced that Gio Gonzalez would not start tonight allowing him to start Game 1 of the NLDS no matter what seed the Nationals end up as. That means that Tom Gorzelanny will get the spot start tonight in his last attempt to secure a spot as a reliever on the playoff roster.
You can guarantee that Gonzalez would have started today if the Braves didn’t lose yesterday thus clinching the Nationals first National League East division crown since moving to Washington and their first division crown in a 162 game season in franchise history. Further complicating matters was the fact that there is no guarantee that the game would even take place today making it even harder for Gonzalez to start game 161 and Game 1 of the NLDS.
The move was warranted and allows the Nationals to have their best starter able to make two starts if necessary in the short best-of-five series. Considering they get the top seed in the NL, that would mean they would probably avoid Gonzalez going head to head with the other team’s ace giving them an advantage even though they start their series on the road.
The only thing this does is give Gonzalez one less chance to make his case for the Cy Young award. I still think he deserves the award despite R.A. Dickey‘s best efforts, but the extra start could have swayed voters one way or another. The Cy Young is definitely not the important thing in this scenario, however. This is a good decision by the Nationals not to take any chances after clinching and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of regulars sitting out the next two days. There is no need to have them play when many are playing with nagging injuries and haven’t had a rest in a few weeks.
Both sides appear to be going with a bullpen game tonight if weather permits. The Phillies are starting B.J. Rosenberg but he will just be one of many Phillies to take the mound today and since Gorzelanny is not stretched out, the same should be said for the Nationals. It’s a good thing the Nationals clinched yesterday, because the high of yesterday should offset the pain of watching minor leaguers in major league uniforms as usually befits the last few days of the regular season. However, instead of looking towards next year, the Nationals are merely looking to next weekend.