Davey Johnson sticking with rotation after shaky starts in St. Louis

September 30, 2012

Bill Boyce / AP

Over the weekend in St. Louis, the Nationals’ starting pitching took a beating and the complexion of their playoff standing shifted slightly. Manager Davey Johnson will respond by keeping his rotation precisely the same.

Both Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler got bushwhacked in the Nationals’ series against the Cardinals. Jackson allowed nine runs in 1 1/3 innings Friday, and today Detwiler allowed seven over 2 1/3. In tandem, that’s 11 outs record and 16 runs scored.

The shaky starts, though, did nothing to change Johnson’s postseason rotation plans. He will still make Jackson the No. 3 starter if the Nationals play the right-handed-heavy Cardinals or Giants, and he will make Detwiler the third starter if they face the lefty-powered Braves’ lineup.

“It’s not really the time I want to see it,” Johnson said. “But they’ve been so good, I’m not worried about it. I don’t have a doghouse.”

Detwiler threw his second consecutive rocky start. Against the Phillies on Tuesday, Detwiler allowed five runs in five innings, including a four-run third inning. Detwiler identified an issue with his slot, saying he dropped his elbow too much, and that he is confidence he can adjust in time for his first postseason start.

“I’m going to have another start this year,” Detwiler said. “And it’s going to be a whole lot better than this one.”

Johnson will also make no changes to his planned rotation for the final three-game of the series of the regular season, which starts tomorrow against the Phillies. John Lannan, Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson will get the assignments.

The timing of Gonzalez’s start raises complications. Johnson  wants to make Gonzalez the Nationals’ No. 1 starter in the postseason. He would be on regular rest if the Nationals claim the top overall seed in the NL. But if the Reds edge them out, then the Nationals would start a day earlier and Gonzalez could not rest.

Johnson said he could give Gonzalez a truncated start Tuesday if they clinch Monday, and then bring him back on short rest if they are the second seed. In that case, he could instead simply make Jordan Zimmermann the Nationals’ No. 1 starter and pitch him on six days of rest, while starting Gonzalez on regular rest in Game 2.

Adam Kilgore covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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Adam Kilgore · September 30, 2012