Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Who’s on your Post Season roster NOW?


Robles has gone from the AFL to the post-season roster. Photo via

Robles has gone from the AFL to the post-season roster. Photo via

We posted this same topic just about a month ago on 8/26/17.  But the topic keeps coming up in the comments, we’ve had a month of players flowing on and off the D/L, so we’re back to it.

I’ll just post my 2 cents without a ton of commentary and lets have at it.

SPs: Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Roark.

Despite his nice outing last night and despite iffy starts from Gio and Roark lately, Jackson is out of the picture.  Did you know Gonzalez is 3rd in the majors in pitching bWAR right now?

RPs:  Doolittle*, Madsen, Kintzler, Albers, Perez*,  Romero*,  Solis*/Kelley, Grace*/Jackson

Some clarity in the last month here, with Glover’s shelving and Madsen’s return.  But there’s still some question marks.  Kelley’s arm injury puts his spot in jeopardy, but at the expense of who?  Solis has looked great lately and was solid in last year’s playoffs irrespective of his ugly seasonal ERA.  But can this team go into a post-season with 5 lefties in the pen?  Why not right?  I put slash lines in here because i think the last two spots come down to matchups; if they decide they need more RHP relievers versus Chicago, look for Jackson to make it.  If they think they need more lefites (ahem, Los Angeles), then look for both Solis and Grace to be in there.

I think the first 5 names are locks.  The rest is still up in the air.

Starters: Turner, Harper, Zimmerman, Murphy, Rendon, Werth, Wieters, Taylor (also my proposed lineup, not that it’ll happen)

No surprises here; yes I know Werth has lost 100 points off his seasonal OPS just this month, but I just cannot see the team sitting him for the playoffs in the last games he likely plays as a Nat.  Harper’s back, lets hope he’s healthy.

Bench: Lobaton, Lind, Kendrick, Difo, Robles

No, I don’t think the team takes Severino over Lobaton.  Lind and Kendrick are locks and Kendrick is first man up to start in the OF if something happens to either Werth or Harper.  Difo makes it over  Drew even if he makes it back; you just can’t go into the playoffs with no game experience.

So it comes down to the big question; who is the 5th bench guy?  de Aza might have looked great with his GWRBI against Pittsburgh … but he’s been god awful at the plate.  If Goodwin was healthy this is a no brainer.  But he’s not and he hasn’t played in 6 weeks and the team needs someone who actually has seen MLB pitching in the last month.  So its Robles.

Debate.  Where do you think i’m wrong?


Written by Todd Boss

September 29th, 2017 at 10:20 am

Posted in Nats in General

27 Responses to 'Who’s on your Post Season roster NOW?'

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  1. I agree with your lineup, starters, and bench.

    With regard to relief pitchers, Kelley is hurt – he’d have to pitch well back to back to get a chance and there’s not enough time left for that. I don’t even think he’s throwing.

    Matt Grace and his 5.5 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 has no shot, in my mind.

    I think the first five are locks, and Solis and Blanton make it based on recent performance. Do they take an 8th guy? What did they end up doing last year? My guess is the next guy up after Solis and Blanton is Romero.


    29 Sep 17 at 10:30 am

  2. I agree with Derek that Kelley is out of the equation. He hadn’t been good anyway. I think Blanton very much is still in contention, both because he’s RH and he’s “been there” (and gotten clobbered by the Cubs in the 2017 playoffs).

    The big problem is that the Nats don’t have much in the way of capable RH relievers beyond Madsen, Albers, and Kintzler. Romero and Solis are actually better against RH hitters than Blanton or Jackson, based on 2017 splits. If they take Romero with the plan to use him in a reverse-split situation, that’s a good call. But I would fear that Dusty would misuse him in a loogy situation.

    I think it’s still up in the air on 5 or 6 for the bench vs. 7 or 8 for the ‘pen. Severino hasn’t done enough to get me excited about trying to get him that 6th spot. The Post writers really seem to think that Goodwin has a chance to be back for the first round. Even if he is, do you also take Robles as insurance?

    I also fear that De Aza’s good Thursday keeps him in the equation because of his “veteran” status. But he can’t play CF, and they’ve got to have a CF backup, all the more with Bryce gimpy. So I think one or the other (or both) from Goodwin and Robles has to be on the roster.

    My guess, as of Friday, is that the bench will be Loby, Lind, Kendrick, Difo, and Goodwin/Robles (but not both), so five total. That would allow them to take Solis, Blanton, and Romero at the back of the bullpen. If they take four lefties, I think they’re also going to want that fourth righty (Blanton).

    I agree with Derek that it doesn’t make much sense to consider Grace, but Dusty likes him, so I wouldn’t rule him out, over Romero.


    29 Sep 17 at 10:52 am

  3. Blanton gave up SEVEN runs in three innings in the playoffs vs. the Cubs last year, including three homers. And that was in a season when he had actually been good.


    29 Sep 17 at 10:54 am

  4. It may be a long-shot idea, but Cole has been excellent at the MLB level against RHB this season: .209/.303/.337. Lefties have clobbered him, but if you want a ROOGY, the numbers say he’s the best option of the remaining candidates. Reality says that he hasn’t worked out the ‘pen much and has no postseason experience, though.


    29 Sep 17 at 10:58 am

  5. So you guys think Blanton is still in the mix? He has had a good september, giving up just one run in a slew of apperances and dropping his seasonal numbers to slightly less ugly figures.

    I put on Grace vs Jackson as a “hey you need a long man” argument. I’m not saying Grace is super awesome … nor am I saying that Jackson is super awesome. But I can make the argument to bring one of them so that if (say) a starter hurts himself and/or Gio walks 8 guys in the first 3 innings of a game and we’re getting pummelled you can put in Grace/jackson to soak up the loss and not destroy your bullepn for the rest of the series.

    Todd Boss

    29 Sep 17 at 12:00 pm

  6. I like the idea of Cole as a sneaky RHP. But really, is Dusty Baker the manager going to do that versus taking Jackson?

    Jackson’s splits versus RHP this year? god-awful. They’re hitting him at a .983 OPS. Not that his numbers in general are stellar either. He’d be an awful choice as a one inning reliever.

    Todd Boss

    29 Sep 17 at 12:02 pm

  7. I always struggle with these prediction things to walk the line between what *I* would do as nats fanboy/not-in-the-clubhouse fake manager versus tryign to predict what the team will do.

    Can we call Oakland and get their version of Treinen back?? 2.19 ERA, 1.16 whip since arriving in Oakland, both more than twice as good as his Nats rate stats. wtf.

    Todd Boss

    29 Sep 17 at 12:08 pm

  8. Blanton’s definitely in the mix. I’m not thrilled about it, but he is, primarily because there aren’t a lot of other RHP options.

    Long man: Solis, Perez, Albers, and Blanton (if he makes it) could all go a couple of innings, so I don’t think you need a true long man. It was a different story last year when they were trying to get something out of a not-ready Joe Ross as a starter.

    That said, I do think you have to be quick with the hook, particularly if Gio or Roark struggles. Pull them after three innings if need be.


    29 Sep 17 at 12:11 pm

  9. Treinen + OAK = no pressure. I’ll take Madson and his 42 games of postseason experience over Treinen in the playoffs any day of the week.


    29 Sep 17 at 12:42 pm

  10. The only disagreement I have is that this the end of Weiters’ time with the Nats. His player option for next year is like $10.5m and I doubt he’d get that anywhere until he remembers how to hit.

    Kevin rusch

    29 Sep 17 at 12:46 pm

  11. Wieters: well for now, Wieters is inarguably the starting C for the playoffs.

    Next year? player option so he’ll exercise it, but if you’re advocating that the Nats cut him and swallow the money I highly doubt they’ll do that. MOre likely is that Lobaton walks and Severino slides into backup role.

    Todd Boss

    29 Sep 17 at 1:21 pm

  12. One quick point, as several sites are debating the postseason roster: however it’s constructed, there are going to be some guys left really disappointed. EJax hasn’t been to the postseason since 2012. Blanton is 36 and may not have too many more opportunities with such a good team. Kelley and Drew are probably going to be on the sidelines, at least for the first round. De Aza and Raburn (who is clearly out) have only had limited tastes of the playoffs. Many of the other relievers who are on the bubble are younger, but they’re all desperate to participate in the pinnacle of their sport. Severino was on the playoff roster last year but may be just a bullpen catcher this time. Goodwin finally had a breakthrough year after a long struggle but may end up on the sidelines unless he gets his powers back up to speed quickly.

    Anyway, like everyone else, I hope the Nats end up with the “best” 25, but it’s really going to suck for those who are #26 and above. And it’s sucked for Eaton since April.


    29 Sep 17 at 3:25 pm

  13. Here, in a nutshell, is where the Nats should have a notable advantage over the Cubs:

    Starting pitching. The offensive numbers between the teams are very close to the same. The Nats have the advantage in starting pitching, at least if their starters bring their A games. The Nats also have a bullpen advantage until the 9th, when it’s about equal, perhaps with a slight edge to Davis. The Nats have absolutely bombed Carl Edwards Jr.


    29 Sep 17 at 3:46 pm

  14. I think Solis is a lock. I’d guess Blanton over Romero, but not sure.

    I still see Robles on the roster. They’re giving him a lot of PAs for a reason.

    More importantly, Lind has to start against RHPs. I’d do it over Werth, but either him or Zim has to sit. Lind has been too strong against righties to keep for a PH.


    29 Sep 17 at 6:46 pm

  15. And there it is, 10 for 10 (HRs). Werth just joined the group.


    29 Sep 17 at 10:06 pm

  16. Too bad the playoffs didn’t start a week earlier. That sure looked like a team primed for the postseason on Friday, a well-oiled machine except for Harper. Zim and Stras both put exclamation points on terrific comeback seasons. Even Werth seemed to be finding a groove.

    That’s the kind of performance they need to give in Game 1 of a playoff series, just come out and bury the opposing team.


    30 Sep 17 at 8:58 am

  17. Cole proved tonight why he might be a better choice for long man. Plus (as notd elsewhere) he’s tough against righties (.209 BAA). IN a bullpen with more good lefties than righties, that might be useful.

    Todd Boss

    30 Sep 17 at 9:23 pm

  18. Plus Kintzler hasn’t been good here of late. Getting very thin on the RH bullpen side. I agree that Cole made a big statement tonight.

    Fingers and toes crossed that Max is OK.


    30 Sep 17 at 10:06 pm

  19. Hamstring “cramps” for Max . . . we hope.

    Kelley to 60-day, so he’s definitely done. Drew activated but then didn’t play. Is he still a part of the postseason roster consideration?


    1 Oct 17 at 8:07 am

  20. Yeah, we’re going to have to worry about Max until he pitches again. I think he’ll be ok though. Looks like he’ll get the CYA again.

    I can’t imagine it’s Drew over Difo. Difo is actually better these days, plus Drew has been off for so long. My guess its to give him piece of mind by getting an AB before the offseason.

    I’ll still be surprised if Cole makes it onto the postseason roster, but it’s the last spot and might not even get used, so who knows.

    Nice to see Zim make a push at the end to lock in .300. What a nice year for him. And if he didn’t make so many errors early, his WAR would be >5, which would be a great story.


    1 Oct 17 at 8:35 am

  21. new posting tmrw on the Cubs matchup. Max has gone from cramp to slight pull to “its going to affect the NLDS rotation.” Great.

    Todd Boss

    1 Oct 17 at 8:47 pm

  22. If there’s ANY doubt with Max, push him back to Monday and let Stras start Game 1 (and 5 if necessary). Stras actually finished the year stronger than Max anyway, plus Stras finally has the look of someone who is ready to be Da Man.

    I love the lineup from over the weekend with Harper batting 2d. There’s less pressure on him in that spot to try to go big. Turner/Harper/Rendon/Murphy/Zim is quite a gauntlet, and all but Harper are reasonably hot. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Maddon ends up issuing multiple intentional walks to Zim to avoid him and get to Werth?

    It’s going to be a LONG wait until Friday!


    2 Oct 17 at 9:02 am

  23. Gotta get Lind in there against RHPs. Somehow


    2 Oct 17 at 9:22 am

  24. It looks like the Cubs will start the series with Lester and Quintana. If Werth doesn’t hit on Friday and Saturday against the lefties, someone’s going to have to have the guts to get Lind a start.


    2 Oct 17 at 9:46 am

  25. Chelsea Janes is still juggling the last roster spots like we are:

    The only flat “no” for me is De Aza. There’s no value added with him, and he can’t play CF.

    As noted, I think Cole may have gotten himself more into the conversation than she acknowledges. Otherwise, she’s probably right that the bullpen is down to Blanton and/or Romero.


    2 Oct 17 at 10:34 am

  26. It could be a lot of fun to see Robles on the PS-roster, but, imy my experience,managers seems to prefer veterans, the “known” quantity. And thanks to all for another season of the always intelligent and fascinating conversation this forum provides, truly thoroughly enjoyable.


    2 Oct 17 at 8:07 pm

  27. […] two posts (here and here) and multiple discussions about the edges of the roster, the team announced its NLDS roster.  […]

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