UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
MLB

Marlins-Nationals Preview

Nationals manager Matt Williams won't announce his postseason rotation until Washington's opponent is determined, though Jordan Zimmermann is definitely in his plans.

The Nationals have captured each of Zimmermann's last 10 outings heading into his final one of the regular season Sunday against the visiting Miami Marlins.

Washington (95-66) has clinched the NL's top seed and will play the winner of Wednesday's wild-card game. Williams has said he wants to wait and see who the Nationals will play before deciding how to arrange his starters.

Zimmermann (13-5, 2.78 ERA) will pitch for the first time since he gave up two runs over six innings to earn a 3-2 win at Miami (77-84) on Sept. 20. He finished the sixth despite getting hit in the shoulder by a line drive from leadoff hitter Casey McGehee.

Williams decided to give him some extra rest due to that incident, and will make a final determination on Zimmermann after Sunday.

"There are no issues," Williams said. "The swelling's gone out of there. Certainly the black and blue is getting out of there."

Zimmermann is 7-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 12 starts since the All-Star break, with the Nationals winning 11 of them - the lone blemish a 7-6 defeat to the Marlins on July 28. He is 6-0 with a 3.06 ERA in his last 10 starts versus Miami.

It's not clear what kind of a pitch count Williams will have on the right-hander.

Zimmermann has had the most trouble among Marlins batters this year with Christian Yelich, who is 6 for 14 against him.

The Washington manager is also being careful with slugger Ryan Zimmerman, who entered in the sixth inning of Saturday's 5-1 victory and singled and made an error. Zimmerman is 5 for 15 in seven games since returning Sept. 20 after missing 55 because of an injured right hamstring.

Asked whether Zimmerman would be on the team's division series roster, Williams responded: "Unless something happens, yeah. His timing is good at the plate. He's capable of playing wherever we would ask him to play."

The Marlins will start Henderson Alvarez (12-6, 2.70), who improved to 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA in his last nine starts with 7 2-3 stellar innings in Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Philadelphia.

The circumstances Sunday are somewhat familiar to the right-hander, who threw a no-hitter against playoff-bound Detroit in last season's finale for a 1-0 victory.

"I'm just trying to go out and have a strong end to the season," Alvarez said. "If it ends like last year, that would be perfect."

Alvarez may have what it takes Sunday to dominate the Nationals after going 1-1 with a 0.51 ERA in three 2014 starts against them with 12 consecutive scoreless innings.

If he can't go the distance, Steve Cishek is one save shy of becoming the fifth Marlins closer to reach 40.

More MLB

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.