Heading back to St. Louis

Sunday should be a pretty special day in D.C./Maryland sports. The Redskins play the Falcons at 1 p.m. The Ravens play the Chiefs, also at 1 p.m. The Nationals start their NLDS series with the Cardinals at 3:07 p.m. The Orioles open their ALDS set with the Yankees at 6:07 p.m. That's a lot happening in one 12-hour span. And for the first time in a long time, the football teams will be taking a backseat to meaningful October baseball. Just eight days after the Nationals flew into St. Louis with the NL East title on the line, they're back, with a spot in the League Championship Series up for grabs. Despite being in different divisions, these two teams know each other fairly well. They played seven times over the final 35 days of the regular season, with the Nats taking four of those seven matchups. The good news here is that Gio Gonzalez's five-hit shutout back on Aug. 31, arguably his best start this season, came against the Cardinals. Edwin Jackson got hit hard his last time against the Cardinals, but he threw eight innings, allowing just one run and striking out 10 batters, on Aug. 30. The Nats showed they can handle Cardinals pitching earlier this season at Nats Park, hitting St. Louis' starters hard and taking three of four games. The bad news here is that the Cardinals are playoff tested and, after winning the World Series last year, have the talent to do it again this year. Their offense is potent, (St. Louis scored the fifth-most runs in the regular season and posted the league's highest on-base percentage,) and they've got pretty good depth in the starting rotation and a solid bullpen. They took two of the three games between these teams in St. Louis last weekend. This should be a really interesting series between two quality squads. The Nats have not yet announced their postseason roster for the NLDS, but we have a pretty good idea how it will shake out. Davey Johnson will only carry four starters and will likely go with an eight-man bullpen. John Lannan is not expected to make the NLDS roster, and instead of going with an extra bench guy like Eury Perez or Mark DeRosa, Johnson has indicated he'll go with an additional reliever. That means Tom Gorzelanny should be safe and rookie Christian Garcia will almost certainly find himself in the mix. Here's how I expect the roster for the NLDS to look (remember, the roster is resubmitted before each series, so the Nats can make changes if they advance to future rounds): Pitchers 1. LHP Gio Gonzalez 2. RHP Jordan Zimmermann 3. RHP Edwin Jackson 4. LHP Ross Detwiler 5. RHP Drew Storen 6. RHP Tyler Clippard 7. LHP Sean Burnett 8. RHP Ryan Mattheus 9. RHP Craig Stammen 10. LHP Michael Gonzalez 11. LHP Tom Gorzelanny 12. RHP Christian Garcia Position players 1. 1B Adam LaRoche 2. 2B Danny Espinosa 3. SS Ian Desmond 4. 3B Ryan Zimmerman 5. LF Michael Morse 6. CF Bryce Harper 7. RF Jayson Werth 8. C Kurt Suzuki 9. C Jesus Flores 10. INF Steve Lombardozzi 11. INF Chad Tracy 12. OF Tyler Moore 13. OF Roger Bernadina

Setting up shop at Busch Stadium
Nats to face Cardinals in NLDS (updated)

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