LOS ANGELES — The Nationals finally named their Game 2 starter, on Friday morning tabbing Tanner Roark to start on Saturday afternoon against the Dodgers at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Gio Gonzalez will start on Monday in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers were the worst team in baseball in 2016 at hitting left-handed pitching, last in MLB in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, wOBA and wRC+ against southpaws, so consideration was given to Gonzalez to start in Game 2, especially considering that Gonzalez could possibly pitch twice in the series on regular rest, if Washington was willing to start Max Scherzer on short rest in Game 4, that is.
"We haven't made our decision yet because we're conferring back and forth on pros and cons of pitching at home, pitching away, you know, following Scherzer, possibility of a Game 4, Game 5," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said on Thursday.
But instead of the what ifs, the Nationals opted for the choice of using the pitcher with better results in Game 2 in Roark, who was 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA in 210 innings in 2016. Gonzalez was 11-11 with a 4.57 ERA in 177⅓ innings.
The two pitchers had similar FIPs (3.79 for Roark, 3.76 for Gonzalez), but Roark averaged 6.29 innings per start while Gonzalez lasted just 5.54 innings on average this season. Gonzalez also had a 7.43 ERA in September, allowing 19 runs on 34 hits in 23 innings.
Neither pitcher has distinct home/road splits this season.
Both faced the Dodgers once in 2016. Roark allowed three runs in 7⅓ innings in a loss on June 21 at Dodger Stadium, taking a shutout into the eighth inning before getting stunned by a Yasmani Grandal three-run home run. Gonzalez allowed a run in six innings in Washington D.C. on July 20, the Nationals’ only win against the Dodgers this season.
Rich Hill starts for the Dodgers on Saturday.