After his previous start against the Marlins, Nationals right-hander Dan Haren praised the core group of young talent in Washington, but acknowledged that the organization might look to make a few changes after this season.
"Me probably being one of them," Haren said.
The 33-year-old will make his final start of 2013 -- and perhaps his final start in a Nationals uniform -- at Chase Field on Saturday. Haren's one-year, $13-million contract is set to expire after the season, and his 4.87 ERA and 28 home runs allowed have not helped to justify a new deal.
"I know the team struggled, but I obviously struggled at the beginning of the year, first couple months. I was a part of the reason we were down so many games," said Haren, who also spent almost three years pitching for the D-backs from 2008-10. "Turned it around for the most part after coming back from the DL, with the exception of one or two starts, but still a big reason why we were down so many games is that I wasn't able to maintain that consistency that the front three guys were throwing the ball so well at the beginning of the year."
Brandon McCarthy will start for the D-backs and look to end his season on a high note after shouldering the loss in his last outing. McCarthy was solid until a three-run homer sneaked inside the left-field foul pole.
"I felt like I was moving along pretty well and keeping it together, and then just one big mistake," McCarthy said after allowing four earned runs on eight hits against the Padres. "The fact that it stayed fair, I don't care. It's just a bad pitch in a bad situation. You're trying to throw a curveball to set something up or maybe get a bad swing on it. Just not a good pitch."
Saturday will mark McCarthy's first start against the Nationals. In three career starts against the National League East, he is 1-1 with a 0.75 ERA, the lowest against the NL East among active starters with a minimum of three starts.
D-backs: Williams draws praise as potential future manager
D-backs third-base coach Matt Williams interviewed for the Rockies' managerial opening last offseason, and now he is one of a handful of candidates reportedly linked to the Nationals' job.
With Washington in town for the last series of the season -- and manager Davey Johnson's last series before his retirement -- Williams declined to comment on any specific managerial openings. D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, however, gave Williams a ringing endorsement.
"I think he'd be great," Gibson said. "He's prepared, he was obviously a good player, we've worked closely together since I've been the manager. He's got a good mind for it. I know he managed in the Fall League last year. He was very good at that as well. I know he had one interview with Colorado last year, and hopefully he'll get an opportunity to represent his thoughts and his plan this offseason."
Nationals: Sunday's starter linked to Johnson's record
As Johnson braces for retirement following Sunday's game, he knows that he will finish with roughly 300 more managerial wins than losses. The exact win count might alter his plan for Sunday.
After the Nationals' win on Friday night, Johnson has an all-time record of 1371-1070. If Washington wins again on Saturday, Tanner Roark will likely start, because Johnson's 300-win differential will be secure. If the Nationals lose, Gio Gonzalez is expected to get the nod.
• Over the course of McCarthy's eight-year career, he has only faced two Nationals: Denard Span and Scott Hairston.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.