WASHINGTON -- Manager Davey Johnson called upon Jordan Zimmermann to bridge the gap between starter Ross Detwiler and setup man Tyler Clippard in Thursday night's Game 4 win over the Cardinals. The move clearly worked out, as Zimmermann struck out the side and fired up the Nationals, but it brought to mind another question: Why not Sean Burnett?
The lefty reliever made 70 appearances in the regular season, all of them in the seventh inning or later. He battled a left elbow injury in September and struggled badly in his only postseason appearance, recording only two outs in Game 2 while surrendering four runs (three earned) on three hits and a walk. Johnson said Burnett was still an option in Game 5, but he simply isn't a great matchup given St. Louis' lineup of dominant right-handed hitters.
"No, I would still use him. But this is a ballclub with very veteran hitters that go the other way real well," Johnson said. "And I like the right-handers more matching up. ... Not that left-handers can't get right-handers out, but I like my matchups of my right-handers against this lineup."
Burnett was devastating against lefty hitters in 2012, holding them to a .211/.245/.289 batting line with 28 strikeouts and only one walk, but those numbers jumped up to .298/.347/.420 with 29 strikeouts and 11 walks against right-handers.
That means right-handers Ryan Mattheus, Christian Garcia and Craig Stammen would be more likely to serve as the bridge to Clippard and closer Drew Storen in Game 5 on Friday night. Edwin Jackson, a right-handed starter like Zimmermann, will also be in the bullpen but only figures to see the mound if the game goes into extra innings.