Nationals manager Davey Johnson is massaging his starting rotation a bit for the Nationals’ upcoming three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, flipping Ross Detwiler and John Lannan at the start of the series and then swapping Edwin Jackson with Gio Gonzalez for the finale.
Detwiler will go on regular rest, starting the first game of the series on Tuesday, but Lannan will get six days of rest before he starts on Wednesday.
On the back end, Gonzalez will pitch on regular rest and go on Thursday while Jackson will be held off until the start of the team’s series in St. Louis on Friday. He’ll be on six days of rest.
From there, Johnson could opt to slip Chien-Ming Wang back into his rotation again to give him three right-handers (Jackson, Wang and Jordan Zimmermann) against the righty-heavy Cardinals, but it sounds as though Wang would only get a start if the Nationals have wrapped up the National League East crown by then.
Their magic number to do so is six, meaning any combination of their own wins or Braves losses totaling six will clinch it for them, and once that happens the Nationals could try to set things up so that they have Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Detwiler and Jackson lined up the way they’d prefer for the National League Division Series.
“I do like the left-handers against Philadelphia and I like right-handers against St. Louis,” Johnson said. “That decision just depends on how we come out of Philadelphia, how we do in the couple games there and how I’m getting the guys ready for the postseason.
“It’s really difficult with the [new] format for the playoffs. It’s very difficult to set your rotation the way you want it because you don’t know who you’re going to play. If you had to go right down to the wire to win the division, then it’s going to be who is most rested is going to start the playoffs.”