Kurt Suzuki will catch blistering right-hander Jordan Zimmermann for the seventh consecutive start tonight. That, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said, is coincidence. It has more to do with Johnson’s search for a catching rotation that pleases him than the battery pairing, which has produced a 5-1 record for Zimmermann with a 1.60 ERA.
Roughly a quarter into the season, Johnson still has not found a way to mix Suzuki and Wilson Ramos that he deems correct. After alternating them on a daily basis most of the season, Johnson plans to let them play in two- and three-day chunks in an effort to help their timing at bat and feel for games behind the plate.
“There’s a certain rhythm you get into when you’re an everyday player,” Johnson said. “Both those guys are good enough to be playing every day. So I’m going to try to get some semblance of that.”
Suzuki, who played yesterday before he was ejected in the ninth inning, hadn’t started back-to-back this season without Ramos on the disabled list until now. Johnson would like to establish one as the everyday player. Problem is, whoever he chooses as the backup, in his mind and by general consensus, would be wasted playing a couple days a week.
After tonight, Johnson said, Ramos will play the next or three games. Despite Johnson’s insistence that “I’m not trying to put one catcher with one pitcher,” Ramos playing for three straight days would line him up to catch Stephen Strasburg on Thursday in San Diego. This season, Strasburg has a 1.44 ERA throwing to Ramos and a 5.19 ERA when Suzuki catches him.
“I’m not as concerned with that as I am giving them multiple days,” Johnson said. “The more at-bats you get in your system, the better you feel about your catching.”