The Nationals postponed today’s series finale against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park because of rain and will announce the make-up date in the coming days. After winning both games against the Marlins, they will carry a 12-4 record to the West Coast for a road trip that begins Tuesday in San Diego.
After playing 15 games in 15 days, the Nationals will receive two consecutive days of rest because of a scheduled off day Monday. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will miss only one game – yesterday’s 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Marlins – while receiving three days off to rest his inflamed right shoulder.
Manager Davey Johnson will not adjust his rotation schedule after the delay. “Nada,” Johnson said when asked about changes to the starting five. Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson will pitch in San Diego, with Ross Detwiler, Stephen Strasburg and Gonzalez starting over the weekend against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The rain today, then, robbed baseball of one of the juiciest pitching match-ups of the season. On Friday, 2011 Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw would have faced Strasburg. This season, Kershaw has a 1.61 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings, while Strasburg has a 1.08 ERA with a league-leading 25 strikeouts in 25 innings. Both the Dodgers and Nationals have won all four games their ace has started.
Johnson perked up for a moment when told the marquee matchup could have happened, but there was nothing he could really do about it. “Who do you want me to drop?” Johnson said.
Even with Strasburg on a limit of roughly 160 innings this season, Johnson did not consider skipping Strasburg altogether in an effort to extend his season by a start or two. The Nationals have been adamant they will not manipulate Strasburg’s schedule in order to stretch out his year, and they stuck to that vow today when given the chance to change it.
“One of the worst things you can do to any pitcher is too much time between starts,” Johnson said. “Regularity is what they know. Usually, your fifth starter is more a veteran guy. You would bump him and then keep your other guys more in line. But in this case, they’re all good. You just keep them in line.”
Still, Johnson has and will take Strasburg’s innings limit into consideration within his starts. Yesterday, Johnson pulled Strasburg for a pinch-hitter after he threw six shutout innings while throwing 94 pitches, including 23 in the sixth. Johnson thought Strasburg could have thrown one more inning, but “that one more inning could be invaluable later in the year,” Johnson said Saturday.
“I don’t like that entering into the equation, and I’m sure he doesn’t either,” Johnson said today. “Basically, I want to treat him like.... If he had an easy sixth, I would have let him and given him one more inning. Now, later on in the year, I won’t be thinking about that.”
Tickets for today’s game can be exchanged at the Nationals Park box office for a ticket of equal or lesser value for the make-up game or for any other game during the regular season.
One last nugget: Had the Nationals played today, Chad Tracy would have played third base and batted third in Zimmerman’s place.