ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals decided to carry only one left-handed reliever, Marc Rzepczynski, on their roster for the National League Division Series, a move that would seemingly benefit the Nationals given their balanced lineup and lefty-heavy bench.
But Washington manager Davey Johnson didn't see that putting St. Louis at a significant disadvantage, guessing that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny will go to Rzepczynski when the Nats pinch-hit for their pitcher and leave him in to face right-handed-hitting leadoff man Jayson Werth and lefty-swinging Bryce Harper.
"One is basically all they needed," Johnson said. "He's got a good bullpen over there. Got a lot of hard throwers. ... They got the arms. I don't think it's that big of an advantage."
Two of the Nationals' most dangerous pinch-hitting options -- Chad Tracy and Roger Bernadina -- are left-handed, with slugger Tyler Moore, utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi (switch-hitter) and backup catcher Jesus Flores the right-handed hitters available in reserve. Matheny didn't expect it to be an issue, either, saying he trusts his late-inning relief trio of Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte against anyone.
"We'll have the one lefty to pick a spot, whether to get one of those three out of trouble, or if need be, before that," Matheny said. "But for the most part, I think teams usually prefer to have those lefties where they can use them in that last third of the game. But our three guys on the back side have been so consistent with lefties and righties that we really don't bring them out just for a matchup."