Nationals Baseball: Post-season Roster

Friday, September 29, 2017

Post-season Roster

OK let's start with the obvious ones

Wieters, Zimmerman, Murphy, Turner, Rendon, Werth, MAT, Bryce

Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio, Roark

Kintzler, Doolittle, Madson

You gotta have your starters (yes that includes Werth right this second), your starting pitchers, and the back of your bullpen.  That is 15.

You have to have back-ups though.

Catcher - Lobaton. He's started twice recently compared to Severino's once and Severino has done nothing to earn a spot.
Infield - Lind, Difo, Outfield - Kendrick . These are obvious choices based on performances and how often they've played recently.
Relief - Matt Albers - best of the original pen arms and continues to pitch strong

That's 20.  So we have 5 spots left.  Is there anything that can inform us about which way these last 5 get distributed? Sure there is. There's last years 25 man. After the "Key 15" it broke down like this.

1 Back-Up C (Severino - Ramos was out remember)
3 IF Back-Ups (Drew, Difo, Robinson)
2 OF Back-Ups (Heisey and MAT - Turner was in the OF, Espy was at short)

1 long reliever (sort-of) Lopez
3 lefty relievers (R-Zep, Perez, Solis) - this assumes the back of pen was defined as Kelley, Treinen and Melancon.

There's no good reason to assume the Nats will take MORE pitchers. There are actually two off days in the NLDS (have been since 2013) and that lets guys get rest more easily. So we need two more bats and 3 more arms.

Here are the stats for the potential players over last two weeks

Robles : 16 PA  .214 / .267 / .357
de Aza : 15 PA  .231 / .286 / .538
Sanchez :  9 PA .000 / .000 / .000
Bautista : 6 PA .000 / .167 / .000
Stevenson : 5 PA .000 / .200 / .000

If you look at the last week to see if you can see any late movement you see Robles (11) and de Aza (10) with the most PA then Stevenson (5) and Sanchez (5) with Bautista basically done (1 PA)

It's pretty obvious from here the Robles and de Aza are the ones that make it.

BUT WAIT! Some complications. Season long bench players Drew and Goodwin are trying to make it back in time.  Drew is not going to be ready so that takes him out but Goodwin is in the instructional league getting as many at-bats as he can get. Do you bring in Goodwin?

Let's understand first that the question is Goodwin or Robles. de Aza is pretty solidly the 5th OF right now. He's an experienced vet who's doing the best (in comparison) and getting the most playing time. He's a lefty bat which is more complimentary to the bench set up so far (Difo is a switch hitter but favors batting right by a good margin. Lobaton is better from the left side historically but as the back-up catcher and as the terrible hitter he is - he's the last man pinch-hitting) He's also splitting time equally between RF and LF as you'd want someone to do who could come in to cover any position in an emergency.

So the question is - is Brian Goodwin good enough that you risk him not being up to major league level and just stick him on the bench? Or do you go with Robles? Personally I go with Robles. For the things you will want that last player to do - basically pinch run - you want Robles to be that guy. He's super fast. Do the Nats go with Robles? Without knowing how Goodwin is doing in Florida it's hard to say. All I know is that they wouldn't be going through this trouble if they didn't think Goodwin was better than Robles*. I'll go ahead and guess Goodwin makes it then, though I'm hoping it's Robles.

For the three relief arms, you can look at the last two weeks as well

Perez : 4g, 2 IP 0.5 WHIP
Solis : 4g, 3.2 IP 0.818 WHIP
Blanton : 3g, 3IP, 1 WHIP
Romero : 3g, 3 IP, 1.3333 WHIP
Grace : 2g, 2 IP, 0.000 WHIP

and then there's

Cole : 2g, 10.2 IP, 1.594 WHIP
Jackson : 2g, 10.2 IP, 1.500 WHIP

The last week show Solis in 3 games, Blanton and Romero in 2, and both Cole and Jackson having much better outings.

This is a tough call which in part is why I think you see different sites starting from 8 and 9 man bullpen spots.  I just don't see that happening. If they didn't do it last year, what is the impetus to do it this year? You hope guys like Max and Stras give you at least 6. You hope K, M, D shut down the 7th, 8th and 9th. So you are going to carry around 5 more arms and cost your self a bat for what exactly? Nah I see another 7 man pen so let's roll up our sleeves and guess at it.

I'm going to say... man I keep wavering here... ok I think Solis is in. He's a lefty, which they need, he gets out lefties, which is the point, and he's been pushed over an inning here and there which makes him a potential long man - really only like a 2-3 inning one but it's there if you need it.

So the pen needs two more arms. Ideally a left and a righty. On the left side, Grace feels edged out, leaving Perez and Romero. I think Dusty likes Romero more - as a guy you can just stick in and use. However, like I said with Solis, I think the point of the lefty is to get lefties out and Romero just doesn't do that. With Rizzo and Schwarber (and solid bench bats Jay and La Stella) sitting out there I think Perez wins out.

That leaves the righty arm. Kelley is dead. So it's Cole or Jackson, if you want a real long reliever, or Blanton, if you don't. I'm going to guess, because of his regular use and not crashing and burning, that Blanton makes it. Jackson was the leader in the clubhouse coming out of August but his September was just too bad to ignore and he's never been used as a reliever by the Nats, which is almost certainly the role he'd have in the playoffs. Cole has been used as a reliever but hasn't in the past few weeks, making me think they took a look at him in that spot and decided against it.

So there you go

14 bats
Wieters, Lobaton (2)
Zimmerman, Murphy, Turner, Rendon, Lind, Difo (6)
Bryce, Taylor, Werth, Kendrick, de Aza, Goodwin** (6)

11 arms
Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzlaez, Roark (4) 
Doolittle, Kintzler, Madson, Albers, Solis, Perez, Blanton (7)

*Better today obviously.  Ideally I think they'd want Goodwin and Robles with de Aza the odd man out. But you can't do that if Goodwin hasn't played a game in the majors yet, imo. You need at least a little security that your guy is major league ready. 

**though I'd prefer Robles


Chas R said...

Good analysis Harper. I agree, and I think that's one helluva good 25 man roster. Probably the best the Nats have ever fielded. Is this The Year?!

Josh Higham said...

I find it hard to believe that Goodwin is MLB ready after a core injury. He's not a great hitter fully healthy, but with a core injury that needs offseason surgery you have to think he will be totally unable to hit playoff pitching. Span and Revere both play a similar game to Goodwin--defense and singles--in a vacuum, but they were both trash coming off core injuries in the last few years. I don't think it makes any sense to rely on Goodwin to hit at all. Robles won't hit either, but at least he can run and play center substantially better than even healthy Goodwin.

Scherzer's Blue Eye said...

Two concerns here:

1. I love Robles--aka the Next Cutch, but I worry about him as a pinch-runner. He's fast and exciting as hell, but in his very limited sample, he's made two outs by coming off the base. I don't know we can give away outs like that in the postseason. It's a correctable issue going forward, but one that is an issue right now.

2. Enny vs. Blanton. They have both been decent in September, I just don't trust Joe Blanton. Romero has struggled vs. lefties--but Blanton has been worse. At least Enny can get righties out. I much prefer Romero's potentional wild triple-digits to Blanton's potential cement-mixer sliders.

Jon Quimby said...

I think Jackson is a far superior pitcher to Blanton and has plenty of experience coming out of the pen. He also provides the long relief option in case Max sleeps poorly, Stras feels the arm tingles, or Gio starts talking to himself. I don't think we'll see Goodwin unless we get past the Cubs.

Harper said...

Chas r - 2012 was pretty solid if a little "this year's results" heavy. But yeah I think this is the best 25 put out there by Nats.

Josh - I'd tend to agree but can't see him so I kind of just have to wildly guess here. It seems like they are ready for him to play but there's nowhere for it to happen other than the majors but Werth and Bryce need their ABs. So are you going to stick him out there in CF every day?

Scherzer - I don't disagree about Robles but I think you take that chance. Romero over Blanton is a way to go but here's Blantons last 15 appearances.

13 IP, 11 H, 4BB, 12 K, 1 HR .229 / .288 / .333

He's been solid for nearly 8 weeks now. Romero has been good to since coming back from his injury but that's more like 3 weeks.

Jon Quimby - thought about that but (1) I think if they do really want a long relief they pull one of the bench guys, not an arm. So Jackson for de Aza or something like that.

If it's an injury to Stras you can always DL the guy and replace him (though he'd have to be out the next series too) So real injuries are not usually factors in roster make-up.

PotomacFan said...

Sorry to say, but Robles looked terrible last night, and of course, de Aza looked terrific. Of course, that's only one game. I think Robles would be over matched at the plate against the very good pitchers that the Cubs will throw out there.

That said, Robles is really fun to watch.

Scott said...

Last year had 3 IF backups and 2 OF backups. Why do you think the Nats will do the opposite this year? I see disaster if more than one non-1B IF gets hurt. The fact that one of your IF backups (Lind) can also (barely) play LF would also seem to indicate you don't need 3 OF backups.

ocw5000 said...

To your point about de Aza, I checked Fangraphs and he is the third-worst position player by fWAR on our roster, but the worst is Lobaton. They are both hitting .167! Somehow better than second-worst fWAR Chris Heisey at .162. Of course, fourth-worst is Werth.json. Yay.

To recap, 3 of the 4 worst players by fWAR are making the postseason roster, and the fourth got released midseason.

Also all three catchers have sub-zero fWAR.


Anonymous said...

The last, and just about the only, time the Nats used EJax out of the Pen was "Game 5," despite the fact that it was a situation where Stammen had been so dependable all of 2012. If Jackson had held the line, there would have been no Drew Storen meltdown.

EJax is not a reliever. Go with Blanton.


Jay said...

I don't trust Romero not to throw it to the backstop. I do worry that they don't have a true decent long reliever - remember 18 innings agains the Giants. I think Goodwin and Drew are more the next round not NLDS. I think they could be decoys hoping the Cubs worry about the last spots in their bullpen against who is on the Nats roster.

Two other quick thoughts. Game 4 if the Nats are down. Isn't Max the ultimate competitor? I think if they're down 2-1 Max is pitching bc he wants the ball. Strasburg would then pitch on normal rest for game 5. I think Max just doesn't want to commit to pitching game 4 if they are ahead 2-1.

Second thought. I have seen the Nats should advance posts on here. I think this series is a coin flip at best. The Cubs won the WS last year. The Cubs are really good. The Nats offense has been iffy for months. The Nats bullpen while better is not better than the Cubs. Right now I would say the Nats are better SP (not by much). The Cubs are better offensively and defensively (again not by much). The Cubs have a better BP. I think the Nats when bc of SP and hopefully the offense finds its way. In no way would I say it is a sure thing.

ocw5000 said...

Best records in second half:

Indians (duh!) 53-19
Cubs (cripes!) 47-24
Nats (oh!): 44-27

I am worried about the hitting as well but apparently most of our regulars have a WRC+ over 100 in the last 30 days which is way better than I expected. This should be fun! I expect Michael Taylor to strike out 3x with RISP and then the fourth time hit a homer.

Wait, that can't be right, what's JSON.werth WRC+ in the last 30 days...


JE34 said...

Blanton has got to be there at this point. He has been there before, throws strikes and has been good recently. Enny has issues throwing strikes with consistency. Relievers CANNOT give free passes late in postseason games.

I would definitely rather see Robles as a pinch runner / defensive replacement over Goodwin. If you're in a position where you need either of them to deliver at the plate, late in a game, things have not gone well.

Just saw today's lineup pop up on my phone... and it looks like the lineup we'll see one week from now (except for Max). Hurry up, calendar!

Harper said...

Scott - Well one of the IF back-ups last year was Robinson (1b/OF), one of the OF back-up this year is Kendrick (OF/2B/3B)

ocw - in any non-playoff year that catching situation would have gotten WAAAAAAAAAAY more attention.

Jay - I don't think Max will pitch regardless in G4.We'll see

Flapjack said...

For what it's worth, I vote for Robles and Cole. Robles has an intangible rise-to-the moment quality, and his recent comeuppances on the base path were learning experiences that should give him better focus. I also think that in a pinch you're more likely to get three quality innings out of Cole than Blanton of Jackson.

BxJaycobb said...

I don't really follow why De Aza is preferable to Robles. He's been absolutely terrible this year. Yeah he had one good game recently. Who cares. Robles is a plus defender, plus plus base stealer, and is as good a hitter right now as de aza easily, even if he may not be as good as healthy Goodwin. On pitching, all I want is no Jackson. I'll take Blanton or Cole, but lean Blanton.

Anonymous said...

I woukd have a 5 man bench of Lind, Kendrick,Difo,Severino/Lobaton and Robles. My bullpen has Doolittle,Madson, Kintzler, Albers, Solis and Perez with two of the following four: Blanton, Cole, Grace and Romero. I lean toward Romero and Cole (if you want a long man) or Blanton if you don't.

Anonymous said...

I forgot if Goodwin looked ready in the instructional league I would take him over Robles. It's a safer bet to avoid a rookie mistake and Goodwin has shown he could hit major league pitching. That said, I think it is more likely he won't be ready for the first round of the playoffs.

Robot said...

Is Eaton definitely out, then?

Froggy said...

You are smoking crack to take Blanton over (insert any arm here). Romero any day over Blanton.

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: I understand that Stras has this "protect him! protect him! fragile!" thing. But consider: Max has SAID he doesn't like pitching on short rest, which is kind of unusual, most aces welcome it. Stras may welcome it. Plus Max appears to be dealing with a near term hammy thing.
Why not go G1: Stras G2: Max G3: Gio G4: Stras for as long as he can without running out of gas G5: Max. I know Dusty doesn't like short rest, but if I were managing I would 100% do this and just tell stras "we will have tanner if you are really feeling it and dying out there/if you look gassed early." For a team that has a rough history to overcome to get over this hurdle, it just seems like the right plan. You are blessed with the best 1-2 punch in baseball. Use it.

BxJaycobb said...

Like to usually should not go with guys on short rest. Unless you have pitchers who are absolute beasts and your 4th starter is super mediocre. And that's what we have. The Nationals have (I would argue) the two best right handed pitchers in the National League when they're healthy. They should pitch as many innings as they can possibly handle. And if Stras only can make it 4-5 innings, then you go Albers/Kintzler/Madsen/Doolittle, with an extra out each and piece it together. Or an inning for Tanner.

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Sammy Kent said...

Unless the rules have changed this season, all advancing teams have the option of tweaking their rosters before the next series. We've never had to (or gotten to) take advantage of that, but it does enable Dusty to take Robles and DeAza for the Cubs series and give Goodwin a little more time to get in game shape. Then if we actually DO advance this year, Goody can be added to the ALCS roster should either Robles or DeAza prove to be ineffective or a liability.

As for the pitchers, not only would I take A.J. Cole, I'd make him the fourth starter over Tanner Roark should we take a 2-1 lead into game 4. You gotta go with who's hot and who's pitching best, and A.J. has been a more than pleasant surprise lately, while Tanner has been a struggling disappointment. Tanner goes into the bullpen with Ollie Perez and Sammy Solis.

Sammy Kent said...

Max's hamstring tightness is a blessing in disguise. It gives Dusty cover to do what he should do anyway: start Stras in Game 1.

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