Strasburg available in relief tonight, Nats' Game 5 starter still TBA

SAN FRANCISCO - Giants manager Bruce Bochy said today that all his pitchers are available for tonight's Game 4 of the National League Division Series - even Jake Peavy, who would otherwise be tabbed as San Francisco's Game 5 starter.

Nationals skipper Matt Williams will go with the same everyone-is-available approach.

Williams said this afternoon that he is not ready to announce his Game 5 starter, saying, "We have a couple guys that would be certainly ready for Game 5. But we don't know how the game's going to present itself today."

strasburg red pitch sidebar.jpgEssentially, Stephen Strasburg could be used in relief today. If that does happen, he would be ruled out as the Nats' possible Game 5 starter.

"All hands are on deck today," Williams said.

The Nats skipper said that Strasburg could be used either as a long reliever, if needed, or as a late-inning set-up guy. The Nats would obviously prefer that Gio Gonzalez works deep into the game and Strasburg isn't needed at all, but in a must-win game, Williams will not hesitate to use his ace in any possible relief role.

"It would be all of the above," Williams said. "If for some reason something goes haywire, Gio gets hit with a ball or something - you never know what can happen - then Stephen could be available for that. He could be available late. He could be available if we get into a situation like we got into Game 2 where we play extra innings.

"The game will present how we go and what we do. But he's available for all of those, yes."

Tanner Roark is another starter that the Nationals could turn to in relief, and he's handled that role before, with nine career big league relief appearances during the regular season and one in Game 2 of this series.

Jordan Zimmermann also worked in relief in the 2012 postseason, throwing a dominant scoreless seventh inning in Game 4 of the NLDS. Williams said that Zimmermann, who is on just two days' rest, would just be an "extreme emergency" option tonight.

Strasburg doesn't have any experience working in relief, but the Nats won't hold back tonight. If they need their hard-throwing righty, they'll call upon him.

"We don't know what the game is going to present," Williams said. "We don't know what kind of situation we're going to be in. And if Stephen is the right guy for that, then he's the right guy for that. We have to make sure that we account for him getting ready.

"I think the fact that guys pitch out of the bullpen, all it does for them is give them a sense of how quickly they can get ready to get in the game. If you've never done it, you really don't know. But we don't know how things are going to go. So he's ready and he's available, and if we have to go that direction, then we can. And we'll just make sure that he's allowed to get ready and be fully hot and ready to go if, in fact, he gets in the game. But at this point, we just don't know how it's going to play."

For what it's worth, Strasburg threw off flat ground this afternoon, while Zimmermann threw a bullpen session, which he typically does two days before a start.

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