Will Sean Burnett get the same treatment? Probably. While he never pitched for Dusty, he's had more consistent success albiet not recently due to injury. Most importantly again, he has an opt-out on April 1st. The Nats can keep him, try him out, and put Gott and Treinen in storage in Syracuse. Unless Burnett agrees (or they lie to him) they can't do that to him because he'll opt-out first (and someone will grab him).
I thought Belisle's iffy spring and age, added to the want to go with Gott and Treinen, would have forced him out. I was wrong there. I can't imagine a younger, likely better, and lefty arm doesn't also win over those two.
I'm still going with Heisey for the final bench spot.
Opening Day Questions :
Do the Nats really have any? Yes, but none feel particularly pressing right now, especially in comparison to last year's "Oh three regulars are going to start the season injured" issue.
- Boz took on the fair question about the bullpen. It should be better, but because they didn't add any specifically great arms during the off-season we can only say "should". Along with the how will they do, what will they do is also a question. Who is the set-up guy? Will there be a 7th inning guy? Seems like Rivero - Kelley - Papelbon is likely but we'll see if Dusty sticks to that with veterans like Belisle and maybe Burnett on the roster.
- Zimmerman, Werth, and Rendon all had no issues playing this spring. That changes the injury question from one of presence to one of production. None of these three's spring warrants anything more than a "keep an eye on it" as the season starts.
- A deeper look at production is probably warranted for Danny Espinosa, who is hitting .133 / .235 / .233 so far. That might be ignorable if not for the fact he hit .206 / .259 / .346 in the 2nd half of 2015 and .219 / .283 / .351 the year before that. If he fails do the Nats turn to Trea Turner, who they'd like to keep in the minors for a couple months both to get some work in and to work his service time? Or do they tough it out with Stephen Drew?
- The playing time for MAT is of interest as well. MAT was bad last year, but given his age the Nats are hoping with a year under his belt he can turn a corner. He seemed to be doing that in the spring (.455 / .500 / .841). A strict platoon with Revere was the most likely scenario early in the spring but it now seems like MAT should get as many at bats as possible. An easy solution to get MAT another start a week would be to use him to rest Werth as well, but Werth may not be happy about that plan.
- Can Wilson Ramos turn it around? Ramos and Lobaton combined to give the Nats one of the worst hitting catching situations in the majors last year. Ramos got LASIK and seems better but the slate is cleaned come day one. If he can't then there's good reason to believe the Nats will seek a catching upgrade at some point in 2016.
- A sneaky question will be how the defense on the right side of the field ends up being. Daniel Murphy has worked on his D but has never been known as a slick fielder, a
nd Werth can't be considered anything other than a detriment in right. (Yes Werth is a fixture, in more ways than one, in left - my bad) Zimmerman, it was thought, might be able to cover a bit for the twohim, but if he's slowed at all by his foot injuries this could become an issue.
The spring is nearing its end and it was almost a perfect one for the Nats. The spring didn't bring in any new questions. There were no injuries, no surprisingly bad performances by key players. All of the questions above were questions before the spring as well and I'd say that only one, the "can Espinosa hit well enough" question, feels more worrisome today than on March 1st. That's about as good as you can hope for, I think.