It's been widely assumed that the Nationals will go with a postseason rotation made up of Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, though not necessarily in that order, as the starting pitching spots for Games 3 and 4 have yet to be determined.
It's possible, however, that John Lannan finds himself in the playoff rotation, as well.
Lannan has gone 9-5 with a 3.20 ERA in 16 career starts against the Braves, and he held Atlanta to two runs over seven innings in a win back on July 21 in his first major league start this season. That success, combined with the fact that the Braves have not been nearly as effective against left-handed starters as they have against righties, could lead to Lannan making the postseason roster if the Nats face the Braves.
It might not be likely, given manager Davey Johnson's tendency to ride it out with the guys that got him here, but Johnson said today that it is possible. He also said he isn't ready to discuss Lannan in the postseason just yet, given that the Nats don't know who they'll play in the Division Series.
"We don't even know who we're playing, and it could be two series later," Johnson said. "So I'll address that when it's time to address it."
The Braves are 63-37 against right-handed starters this season (.630 winning percentage) and 30-31 against lefties (.491 winning percentage).
Those numbers are nice and all, but the Nationals paid Jackson $11 million for this season, and it's hard to see them sitting him in the postseason unless he's really struggling or they feel Lannan gives them a far better chance to win.
Meanwhile, Johnson said again today that he'd like to get the No. 1 seed in the NL, but not because of the opponent it would have the Nats face.
"I'd prefer not to go five hours on a plane," Johnson said. "I'd prefer to go an hour and a half. But all three opponents are good opponents."
Johnson said he won't lose any sleep over the playoff seeding either way, but the Nats can know for sure how they'll be seeded if they win today. A Nationals win or a Reds loss tonight means Washington gets the No. 1 seed.
The Nats have a good idea how their playoff roster will shape up, but they won't say much publicly just yet. One thing Johnson did say today is that the Nats will keep some players in D.C. as they go on in the postseason, with the rest going down to Florida to stay in shape at the team's complex in Viera in case they're needed later down the road because of injury or a roster move.
"The guys that we'd probably keep here will be pitchers," Johnson said. "(Stephen Strasburg) and company. Probably three other guys."