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."
Johnson feels 'a lot better' as Nats prep for Game 1
ST. LOUIS -- After being diagnosed with a nerve issue Wednesday and spending time in the hospital Friday, Nationals manager Davey Johnson arrived at Busch Stadium on Saturday feeling "a lot better."
Johnson exited Wednesday's regular-season finale against the Phillies early due to numbness in his left leg caused by a narrowing of the L3 and L4 vertebrae. The manager said he was given novocaine and a cortisone shot -- the same type of treatment that turned around Ryan Zimmerman's season -- to ease the inflammation in his back.
Johnson said he felt pain free Saturday, complaining only of a stiff back irritated further by the sub-50-degree temperatures.
"This St. Louis weather ain't helping it," Johnson said. "I'm going to be fine."
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who will start Game 1 for Washington on Sunday, poked fun at Johnson's situation when describing his first year with the 69-year-old manager, the oldest in the Majors.
"He's a guy that brings excitement. He's always smiling," Gonzalez said. "I think with Davey, he's just got to stay healthy."
Garcia in 'pen as Nats set Division Series roster
ST. LOUIS -- There were no major surprises when the Nationals finalized their Division Series roster on Saturday. Washington kept 13 position players, four starters and eight relievers.
Veteran infielder Mark DeRosa and left-hander John Lannan traveled with the team to St. Louis but were left off the playoff roster. Perhaps the most surprising player to make the cut was right-handed reliever Christian Garcia, given that he was a September callup who broke spring camp with Double-A Harrisburg before moving up to Triple-A Syracuse.
But Garcia pitched his way onto the roster with some dominant performances, a 2.13 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings, and the Nationals could use another righty given the number of dangerous right-handed hitters on the Cardinals' roster.
"I'm just trying to take it all in and enjoy it most of all, go out there and put my best foot forward," Garcia said. "I can't say it was a surprise, because I have high expectations for myself and big goals, but it's obviously something I didn't have control over, so I was very excited. I wouldn't use the word surprised. I would say more excited than anything.
"You imagine it. It's what you dream of. When I was rehabbing, the thing that helped me get through days I didn't want to work out was days like this, like being able to pitch in a postseason game -- and not just pitch in it, but be somebody in the postseason and make a name for myself."
The rest of the Nationals' bullpen includes closer Drew Storen, setup man Tyler Clippard, right-handers Ryan Mattheus and Craig Stammen plus lefties Sean Burnett, Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny. Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler round out the starting rotation.
Rookie slugger Tyler Moore made the cut, joining outfielders Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Michael Morse and Roger Bernadina; infielders Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi; and catchers Kurt Suzuki and Jesus Flores.
The Nationals sent catcher Sandy Leon and outfielders Eury Perez and Corey Brown back to their Spring Training facility in Viera, Fla., in case they are needed, while Stephen Strasburg joined DeRosa and Lannan as non-roster players with the club in St. Louis.