The Washington Nationals have named Gio Gonzalez the Game 5 starter vs. the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on Thursday night.
Gonzalez gets the call in the pivotal winner-take-all contest coming off of normal regular season rest, four days from his last appearance. Originally Stephen Strasburg was the anticipated starter in Game 5 coming into the series, but a rainout on Tuesday evening allowed manager Dusty Baker to change up the rotation. Strasburg got pushed up to the Game 4 starting role, in place of Tanner Roark, after starting Game 1.
It is the second straight game that Roark has been passed over for one of the Nationals top three pitchers. The Wilmington, Illinois native will be available out of the bullpen, looking for his fourth ever postseason appearance.
Starting Game 2 for the Nationals this past Saturday, Gonzalez pitched a respectable 5.0 innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits and six strikeouts.
Including his postseason start, the 32-year-old is 0-1 in two starts against the Cubs in 2017 with a 3.27 ERA.
Throughout his 10-year career, Gonzalez has five postseason starts all resulting in no decisions and a 4.24 ERA.
This is the second winner-take-all Game 5 Gonzalez has pitched. His first was back in 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals where the Nationals blew a 6-0 lead after three.
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Gonzalez will duel the Cubs starter, Kyle Hendricks (1-0, 0.00 ERA in 2017 postseason) in Game 5. As the Game 1 starter in this series, Hendricks completely shut down the Nationals to only two hits, while only striking out five. He lasted seven innings handing off the game to Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis to preserve the shutout.
In an all-hands on deck move, the Nationals also have their ace Max Scherzer available coming out of the bullpen in an attempt to advance to the National League Championship Series for the first time as the Nationals..
The D.C. four professional sports franchises have lost their last 12 games with a conference finals appearance on the line, according to the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg.
Since relocating to Washington, the franchise has ended two of their three postseason runs in a Game 5 situation in the NLDS. Both of those series were at home as well.
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