The Washington Times - June 7, 2012, 12:13PM

When Thursday is over, the Nationals will be finished with a 14-game barrage of National League East teams, coming out with no worse than an 8-6 record.

But they’ll have to get by R.A. Dickey and the Mets, first. Dickey, a knuckleballer, has been putting together a fabulous season for the Mets with an 8-1 record and 2.69 ERA. Dickey, who also uses his fastball and slider, is never a favorite for the Nationals. A few players have even previously said they’d rather sit out his games altogether because not only will Dickey baffle them but the knuckleball will screw their timing up for days after that. 

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Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who said the first knuckleballer he ever faced was only Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm, said his approach to the pitch was always to treat it like a curveball. Johnson used to crowd the plate, he said, so it always seemed like the pitch was tailing away from him and that’s when he’d go after it.

No Nationals will get out of facing Dickey today, though. The Nationals will be running out their regular lineup, the lone exception (other than Chien-Ming Wang pitching) is that Jhonatan Solano will make his second major league start behind the plate as Jesus Flores gets a day off. 

Here are the full lineups:

Nationals

Steve Lombardozzi LF
Bryce Harper CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Michael Morse RF
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Jhonatan Solano C
Chien-Ming Wang P

Mets

Kirk Nieuwenhuis CF
Josh Thole C
David Wright 3B
Lucas Duda RF
David Murphy 2B
Scott Hairston LF
Ike Davis 1B
Omar Quintanilla SS
R.A. Dickey P