SAN FRANCISCO -- Entering Monday, the Nationals were three games away from an off-day. That might not seem like a big deal, but it will also mark the end of a stretch during which they played 35 games in 34 days.
Along with a much-needed chance to rest, it will give Washington manager Davey Johnson an opportunity to tweak his starting rotation. He wasn't ready Monday to announce exactly how he would do so, but he said he has been thinking about it.
"I'm not going to do anything the next three days, and that's all I'm concerned about," Johnson said. "This time of year, you go further out about how you want the pitching to line up coming down."
Right now, the Nats' two left-handers, Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez, are lined up to pitch on consecutive days. By shuffling it, Johnson could break up the lefties and give right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, still dealing with some right shoulder soreness, an extra day to rest between starts.
Johnson said he would like to switch up the order of his rotation because it allows him to better organize his bullpen, specifically his long relievers. He can also start one of his pitchers against a team he's had a particularly high level of success against.
But there's another factor in play as well: In a pennant race, Johnson can line up his starters for a certain series -- like, for example, next week's three-game showdown with the Braves at Nationals Park.
"That's right," Johnson said. "That would be one of the reasons."