For the first time this season, the Nationals rotation is just as they drew it up.
Right-hander Doug Fister will make his first start since the Dec. 2 trade that brought him to Washington from Detroit, having overcome elbow inflammation and a lat injury that sidelined him for the first month of the season.
Manager Matt Williams expressed excitement to have Fister healthy - and rightfully so - when talking to the media at O.co Coliseum in Oakland before tonight's game.
"It's good for him, first and foremost," Williams said. "He was in line during spring training to start the season with us and slide right in there. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. So we've been a little bit cautious with him I think to make sure that he's good to go. But we're glad to have him finally. I think he's a little bit limited probably on his pitch count, but that's to be expected. And he's ready to go and so are we."
It doesn't seem that Fister will be terribly limited, however, as Williams indicated the 6-foot-8 veteran will be able to last to around 100 pitches.
"It depends. It depends on how he goes through the game," Williams said. "If they're high-stress innings, then we'll have to keep a close eye on him. But he's good to 100, he's good to somewhere around there. We don't want to just run him out there first time out and tax him too much because, like I said, we're in it for the long haul and so is he."
Williams is aware that expectations shouldn't be too high for the first outing, even though Fister has pitched to a 3.30 ERA in 91 appearances (89 starts) since 2011.
"He's going to pitch the way he pitches," Williams said. "The issue that we want to look at in his first start is how does he feel? Of course we want to win the game and all that, but we want to make sure that we keep on how he's feeling, what his pitch count is, make sure his stressful innings are not too stressful because we want him for the long haul. That's the extent of it as far as I'm concerned. I want him to feel good about going out there and competing, and make sure that he physically feels fine."
Williams also provided an update on outfielder Nate McLouth, who has played in one game and made no plate appearances since cutting his hand on a spectacular catch Monday night.
"Nate's fine. He hit today and it's still a little sore," Williams said. "It's an open wound. Still a little sore, but he can go today if we needed him to go. With the lefty pitcher and the matchup of (Kevin Frandsen), he's not going to play today. But he will for sure be in there tomorrow."