NEW YORK — Well, this wasn’t quite the scenario anyone expected today, with Tanner Roark starting the Nationals’ third game of the season. But with Jordan Zimmermann severely under the weather — he has a fever, was up all night vomiting and is receiving fluids now to combat dehydration — Matt Williams had to call an audible and gave the ball to Roark for this series finale at Citi Field.
Fortunately, Roark is on normal rest. He was supposed to start Saturday’s exhibition game against the Tigers, then wound up throwing an extended bullpen session after that game was rained out. Knowing Tanner, he seems like the type who won’t be fazed by this last-minute switch one bit.
Williams has a couple of lineup changes against Mets flamethrower Zack Wheeler. Bryce Harper, who hit seventh last night, is bumped all the way up the 2-spot today. And Danny Espinosa and Sandy Leon get their first opportunities to start. As has been stated here several times the last few weeks, Espinosa is going to get regular starts at both second base and shortstop, even if that means sitting Anthony Rendon on occasion.
“That’s the biggest challenge,” Williams said this morning. “They both played really well in spring training, and they both earned the right to play. We want to try to make sure that we get both of them opportunities. Anthony’s played really well. Danny’s played really well. He had a great at-bat the other day. We want to make sure that our bench guys have adequate at-bats as well during the course of the season, so they’re fresh and their timing is good. That’s all it is. We feel very confident in Danny and his ability. That’s why he’s starting today.”