WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez had been mentally preparing for his Tuesday start until the moment he found out, late on Monday night, that he wouldn't be pitching. Now he has the rest of the week to focus on a more important outing.
Already tabbed as the starter for Game 1 of the National League Division Series -- which will be played on Saturday or Sunday, depending on seeding -- Gonzalez was scratched in favor of Tom Gorzelanny. Washington's clinching of the NL East on Monday night prompted the decision.
"We're division champs, which is the best and most important thing," Gonzalez said. "It just gave me an extra couple of days to rest up and get ready for Game 1."
Gonzalez and pitching coach Steve McCatty will work out a schedule for the next few days.
"It's a learning curve for me," Gonzalez said. "I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm going to go out there and still try to throw some [bullpen sessions]. I'm going to go out there and do long toss, do whatever I have to do to stay in shape, watch some video -- whatever I need to do to be where I need to be."
Following Gonzalez in the NLDS rotation will be Jordan Zimmermann. The starters for Games 3 and 4 will be determined once the opponent is known, manager Davey Johnson said.
"It means a lot [to start Game 1], especially with such a great rotation that we have," Gonzalez said. "[There are] so many guys that could easily take it and deserve it. I'm grateful to be mentioned in that conversation. If they feel like they want to put me out there for the first one, I'm going to give it all I've got."
Gonzalez's regular season ends with him fully entrenched in the NL Cy Young conversation. He is a 21-game winner, sixth in the league in ERA (2.89) and fourth in strikeouts (207).