Against left-handers this season, the NL East's third place Philadelphia Philies have the fourth-worst AVG (.234), 3rd worst OBP (.298) and the eight-best SLG (.394). Knowing that, Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson rearranged his rotation, throwing Jordan Zimmermann Monday and giving Edwin Jackson an extra day's rest, so that the Nats' three lefties would face the Phillies with Ross Detwiler going tonight, John Lannan on Wednesay and Gio Gonzalez on Thursday in the series finale of the three-game set in Citizens Bank. Asked about how he made the decisions on his rotation at this time of the year, Johnson said he was matching his pitchers up against the opponents rather than lining them up for the end of the year and beyond.
"Right now I match up for the teams we're playing," the 69-year-old skipper explained. The doubleheader with the Dodgers and Chien-Ming Wang's spot start, "... gave everybody an extra day anyway," Johnson said, "But I'm matching up to get what I think is the best matchup. And give them a little more rest."
By Monday, when the topic came up again before the series finale with the Brewers, Johnson talked about how he might have to start planning to have his pitchers lined up correctly for the postseason. But first, his goal, or main concern, Johnson explained, was to win the division, and, "... if we win it quickly enough then you have a pretty good idea who your opponent might be and you can set up your pitching accordingly."
"I might have to do a little massaging this coming week," the manager said, "so I have who I want lined up and it's probably going to be Gio [Gonzalez] to be ready to pitch..." He didn't finish the sentence. Whenever they need him to pitch in the first game of the postseason. When exactly that will be the Nationals don't know.
On Monday afternoon Johnson said he had the last nine games set now. "Ideally, I've got three left-handers going against [Philadelphia] and that's kind of the way I wanted to set it up and then those three can also come back at the [Phillies] when they come [to D.C. for the final series of the season]. And I like right-handers against St. Louis..."
• Tonight's Lineup: Davey Johnson also explained to reporters this weekend that he had no intention of taking anything for granted until the Nationals had wrapped up the division and therefore he would keep running his starters out there as he is tonight in Philadelphia. Ross Detwiler's on the mound. Here's the lineup:
Tonight's lineup: Werth, rf; Harper, cf; Zimmerman, 3b; LaRoche, 1b; Morse, lf; Desmond, ss; Espinosa, 2b; Suzuki, c; Detwiler, p.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 25, 2012