Gio Gonzalez won't get a chance to notch his 22nd win of the regular season. He'll have to settle for a chance to notch the very first win of the postseason.
Gonzalez was scratched from his scheduled start tonight against the Phillies and told to begin preparing to take the mound for Game 1 of the National League Division Series, which will be played either Saturday in San Francisco or Sunday in Atlanta, St. Louis or Los Angeles.
"It means a lot," the left-hander said of his designation as the Nationals' postseason ace. "Especially with such a great rotation we have, some guys that could easily take that and deserve it. I'm just grateful to even be mentioned in that conversation. If they feel like they want me to put out in the first one, I'm going to give it all I've got."
Davey Johnson made his decision official this afternoon, confirming Gonzalez will start Game 1 of the NLDS, with Jordan Zimmermann starting Game 2. The order of the rest of the Nationals' rotation will depend on their first-round opponent.
"If it's Atlanta, we'll probably go with a lefty," the manager said. "If it's St. Louis, probably [Edwin] Jackson. I'll figure that out. I haven't really gone into all the match-ups. That's just in my head."
Gonzalez could have started tonight's game and still kept himself in line to pitch Sunday. But the possibility of a Saturday start to the postseason convinced Johnson to skip his ace's regular-season finale and tell him to begin preparing for this weekend.
Gonzalez isn't entirely sure what his preparation will entail, when he'll throw off a bullpen mound since he may not know until tomorrow night when the game will be played.
"That's one of those things me and [pitching coach Steve McCatty] are going to have to sit down and talk about. Again, this is a learning curve for me. I don't know know how to prepare myself for something like this. Some way, somehow I'll find it and I'll try to figure it out. We've got guys who can lead the way and can help lead me where I need to be."