(Ray K. Saunders/Washington Post)

With heavy rain this afternoon and more expected later in the day, the Nationals-Tigers game has been postponed. The makeup game will be at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday, by chance a mutual off day for both teams.

The Nationals and Tigers were originally scheduled to play a two-game series Tuesday and Wednesday, a matchup between two preseason World Series favorites. The Tigers next play the Cleveland Indians at home on Friday and the Nationals next play at home against the Chicago Cubs.

The Nationals rotation will remain intact and in order despite the postponement. Jordan Zimmermann, who was scheduled to start Tuesday, will now start Wednesday instead, and Dan Haren will start Thursday’s game. The Tigers starters will remain the same, too. Anibal Sanchez, who has an 8-0 career record with a 1.97 ERA against the Nationals, will start Wednesday and Doug Fister will start Thursday.

Manager Davey Johnson said he spoke with the head of the grounds crew and was told that a large patch of rain was seen on the radar heading towards Washington later in the day. Johnson feared that the game would start and then the rain return, causing both teams to lose their starting pitchers because of a rain delay or later postponement.

Zimmermann, one of the best pitchers in the National League a month into the season, played catch on the field Tuesday evening during a break in the rain. He wasn’t into the heart of his pregame routine because only 15 minutes after changing out of his street clothes he was told the game was postponed.

Now, Zimmermann will have another day of rest before he faces the most potent offense in the majors. Because of Monday’s off day, he has rested five days and will now rest six in between starts. Zimmermann faced the Tigers in spring training with a lineup that included Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and retired 18 straight batters after a leadoff single. That start, he said, had no bearing on his upcoming regular season start against them.

“Spring training is still early for everyone,” he said. “They’re swinging a good bat right now. I have to bring my A game and see what happens.”

Haren also played catch on Tuesday, and the extra day of rest only means he will play catch again on Wednesday. When Haren takes the mound on Thursday, it will have been one week since his last start. He said the extra day doesn’t affect him and, in fact, is welcome after so many years of starting.

“The anxiety of a game day is tough,” Haren said. “So I’m sure (Zimmermann has) been thinking about it all day and now he has to back tonight and redo it. For me, I can just have dinner and a glass of wine and be fine.” (It will be a red wine, a pinot noir.)

Haren added later: “I’ll take extra days anytime I can get them. I’ve had plenty of years of throwing every five days. It stinks.”

According to the team, season ticket holders who had tickets for Tuesday’s game will automatically have their card activated for Thursday’s game. Any transfers or forwarding of seats can be made through the team’s season ticket website.

For season ticket holders who chose the print-at-home ticket option for Tuesday’s game, those tickets will still be valid for Thursday’s game. All Red Carpet Rewards tickets, group tickets, mini plan tickets, flex plan tickets or single game tickets for Tuesday’s game will also be valid for the makeup game, according to the team.

There will be no refunds or exchanges for later games, which represents departure in team policy that a Nationals spokesperson attributed to “higher demand and less capacity.”