ST. LOUIS -- As expected, manager Davey Johnson named right-hander Edwin Jackson the Nationals' Game 3 starter on Saturday, meaning lefty Ross Detwiler will start Game 4, if necessary, against the predominantly right-handed Cardinals lineup.
Both pitchers were roughed up in their last starts against St. Louis, with Jackson giving up nine runs over 1 1/3 innings on Sept. 28, and Detwiler surrendering seven runs in 2 1/3 innings two days later.
Unexpectedly, however, Johnson said he might have lined up his rotation exactly the same way against the lefty-laden Braves, had they beaten the Cardinals in Friday's Wild Card game. Before Saturday, Johnson had been implying that Detwiler would start Game 3 against Atlanta, with Jackson taking Game 4, but he pointed to Jackson's track record in October -- he pitched in the 2008 and '11 World Series -- as the difference.
"I kind of like the experience that Edwin Jackson brings," Johnson said. "Even if it had been Atlanta, I would have probably gone with Jackson."
Johnson emphasized his trust in his pitchers throughout his media session Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium, saying he had no concern about starting southpaw Gio Gonzalez in Game 1 on Sunday, even if the Cardinals are more likely to beat up on a left-handed pitcher, and that he wasn't worried about Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann taking the mound on extra days' rest.
"Right-handers have just as much trouble hitting Gio as left-handers," Johnson said, a statement backed up by the Cardinals' .179 (5-for-28) average against Gonzalez this year. "When he's locating his fastball, and he's hitting the low side of the plate, he's got a devastating curveball. I don't care if they have all right-handers out there. He's tough.
"Gio would have hung me if I didn't have him going first. Gio had one heck of a year. I think he was lowest hits-per-inning, and most clubs stack their clubs with right-handers. I admit, St. Louis has some awfully good right-handers in the middle of the lineup, but you have to make good pitches."