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Johnson prefers his righty relievers vs. Cards

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.

Full Game Coverage
WAS Full Game Coverage HINGTON -- 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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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