General Manager of the Washington Nationals Mike Rizzo joined the Holden and Danny show for his weekly interview on Wednesday before the Nats’ 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in their regular season finale.
Rizzo spent his time Wednesday reliving the celebration that insued Monday night after the Nats’ clinched the NL East title when second-place Atlanta lost 2-1 in Pittsburgh. Despite a 2-0 defeat to Philadelphia at home, the Nationals popped bottles and celebrated their first division title since moving to D.C. in 2005.
“To see that dugout erupt like that, and see the reaction of stoic players like Ryan Zimmerman really got everyone’s juices flowing,” said Rizzo.
Asked about who he was most excited for of all the players, Rizzo chose the Nats’ longest tenured player.
“Zim, Ryan Zimmerman,” said Rizzo. “No doubt. He’s grinded through a lot of losing seasons here and is the face of the franchise who had to weather a lot of bad baseball.”
Despite multiple 100-loss seasons and meager fan attendance at home, Zimmerman re-signed with the Nats’ this spring for six-years and $100 million because he believed the young franchise could turn it around. Rizzo credits Zimmerman for his patience.
“It’s a testament to his ability level, and his professionalism,” said Rizzo. “Never heard a peep from him about trading him or anything like that. To see champagne being poured over him was something special.”
With a win on Wednesday, that Nats’ secured the top seed in the NL and will face the winner of a one-game wild card playoff between Atlanta and St. Louis in the first round. Rizzo says the team has already dispatched their scouts to various cities in order to prepare for who ever they may face
“We have our army of advance scouts out there covering all the opponents, even AL teams,” Rizzo said.
NL Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez is expected to make the start in the Nats’ playoff opener. Rizzo says because of the new playoff format that gives teams less rest days in-between games, they may have to expand their pitching rotation to “probably a four-man rotation.”