Nats get ready for first matchup with Darvish

Nats get ready for first matchup with Darvish

WASHINGTON -- Rangers starter Yu Darvish is a true staff ace, one of the baseball's best pitchers. The Nationals will get their first look at the sterling right-hander in Sunday's series finale. That makes for a challenging matchup, one that could psych out a batter or nine. From Nationals manager Matt Williams' perspective, the matchup for Washington's lineup isn't really against Darvish.

"Once the pitcher releases the ball, it's not about you and the pitcher anymore," the former slugging third baseman said. "It's about you and the ball. Always have to remember that. [Batters] have true authority as soon as it's released. We can choose to whether swing or not and what to do with that pitch."

Darvish (4-2, 2.35 ERA) was scratched from his previous start with neck stiffness. Over his three previous outings, the 27-year-old allowed four runs and 13 hits while striking out 29 over 23 2/3 innings.

"True aces have really good pitches, and Darvish is one of the best at it," Williams said. "[He has] a number of different pitches moving in a number of different ways and a 97-mph fastball when he wants it. But we are in control at the plate as soon as he releases it.

"No different than any other day. If you put too much emphasis on it … you tend to tense up, try to do too much and probably play into his hand a little bit."

Tanner Roark (3-3, 3.47) is slated to start for the Nationals on Sunday.

Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.