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Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound April 5 at Wrigley Field.
But Strasburg -- in the mind of manager Davey Johnson -- is the best pitcher on the Nationals' staff. And that's why the 23-year-old hurler will be on the mound April 5 at Chicago's Wrigley Field for Opening Day.
"I like to put my best foot forward from the get-go," Johnson this morning in making the formal announcement.
Strasburg has only 17 games of big-league experience, but in that short time he's established himself as one of the game's most dominant starters, owner of a 2.54 career ERA and a ridiculous 116-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
So how did Johnson make the decision to go with Strasburg over the likes of Gonzalez (a 16-game winner and All-Star with the Athletics last season), Zimmermann (who posted a 3.18 ERA in 26 starts last year) and Jackson (a member of the Cardinals' World Series-winning rotation)?
My experience and my baseball instincts," the 69-year-old manager said. "It was easy. Very easy. It had nothing to do with favoritism or anything like that. He's my Opening Day starter."
Johnson announced that Gonzalez will start the season's second game (April 7 in Chicago). He wouldn't reveal the order of the rest of his rotation yet, but as things currently stand Zimmermann would serve as the No. 3 starter, with Jackson as the No. 4 starter. If Chien-Ming Wang recovers from a hamstring injury in time, he would be the fifth starter; if not, John Lannan would take that spot.
Assuming everyone stays on schedule, Gonzalez would be in line to start the Nationals' April 12 home opener against the Reds.
Strasburg's second start of the season will come in New York, either April 10 or 11 against the Mets. His home debut would then come either April 15 against the Reds or April 16 against the Astros.