Washington Nationals: Predicting the Full 2012 Postseason Roster
The Washington Nationals have clinched their first postseason berth in franchise history, and the time to start making crucial playoff-roster decisions is upon us.
Washington has had several players step up big this season. Bryce Harper has caught fire of late; Jayson Werth has enjoyed a nice bounce-back season; Ian Desmond has broken out; Adam LaRoche is enjoying arguably the finest season of his career; Gio Gonzalez leads the majors in victories; Jordan Zimmermann has become an almost-ace.
These guys will be asked to carry the load in October, but the remaining players on the roster will be nearly as important. The best October teams bring insane levels of depth to the table, and that's something that the Nationals have enjoyed all season long.
Manager Davey Johnson shouldn't have a difficult time naming 22 or 23 members of the playoff roster, but the final few spots in the bullpen or on the bench could prove to be difficult.
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Gio Gonzalez (20-8, 193.1 IP, 2.84 ERA)
Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 189.1 IP, 2.90 ERA)
Edwin Jackson (9-10, 181.2 IP, 3.77)
Ross Detwiler (10-6, 157 IP, 3.10 ERA)
With Stephen Strasburg shut down, each pitcher in the Nationals' rotation will be asked to step it up.
In reality, that shouldn't be a big task for the foursome. Gio Gonzalez has been a legitimate ace and Cy Young contender since coming over from Oakland, while Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler have more than held their own all season long. There was even a stretch where Zimmermann was the team's best starter.
In the NLDS, Washington will more than likely go with a three-man rotation. This will leave Detwiler relegated to bullpen duty, as he'll likely be the odd man out. Though his statistics suggest that he's been better than Jackson this season, Jackson has the postseason experience that Detwiler lacks.
Jackson is actually the only pitcher in the rotation that has playoff experience. Here's how he has fared over the course of his career:
22.0 IP, 21 H, 17 SO, 4.91 ERA, 1.500 WHIP
With Gonzalez and Zimmermann potentially getting two starts apiece if the series goes to the full five games, I like the Nationals' chances to succeed.
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Tyler Clippard (2-6, 32 S, 67.2 IP, 3.59 ERA)
Drew Storen (2-1, 3 S, 24.1 IP, 2.59 ERA)
Sean Burnett (1-2, 2 S, 54 IP, 2.50 ERA)
Ryan Mattheus (5-3, 0 S, 62.1 IP, 2.89 ERA)
Craig Stammen (6-1, 0 S, 84.1 IP, 2.35 ERA)
Michael Gonzalez (0-0, 0 S, 33.1 IP, 2.43 ERA)
Tom Gorzelanny (4-2, 1 S, 65.2 IP, 3.02 ERA)
Christian Garcia (0-0, 0 S, 8.0 IP, 3.38 ERA)
In the postseason, teams generally only carry 11 total pitchers. Though that number is subject to change on a round-by-round basis, that's what we expect to see from the Nationals at the start of the playoffs.
Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen are the immediate locks. After Clippard's poor showing this past week, Storen has been given the nod to receive about half the save opportunities. Clippard will continue to see looks, but expect Storen to get the majority of the opportunities going forward.
Sean Burnett, the team's top left-handed option, forms a formidable backend of the Washington bullpen along with Ryan Mattheus and Craig Stammen. Each of those three will have spots on the roster.
Now, here's where it gets tricky. While Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny have been with the team for a good chunk of the season, there's no need to carry three lefties in the postseason. Christian Garcia has had a few good outings in his young career, and young arms generally bode well in the postseason (see Francisco Rodriguez and Adam Wainwright).
Gorzelanny's role as more of a long-reliever give him the disadvantage from the start, as Detwiler will likely be used in that role in the division series.
Prediction: Gonzalez and Garcia round out the bullpen.
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RF Jayson Werth (.306/.395/.448, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 8 SB)
CF Bryce Harper (.258/.330/.449, 19 HR, 52 RBI, 16 SB)
3B Ryan Zimmerman (.286/.353/.483, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 5 SB)
1B Adam LaRoche (.269/.340/.509, 32 HR, 98 RBI, 1 SB)
LF Michael Morse (.288/.321/.445, 14 HR, 52 RBI, 0 SB)
SS Ian Desmond (.299/.340/.523, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 20 SB)
2B Danny Espinosa (.255/.321/.412, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 19 SB)
C Kurt Suzuki (.227/.268/.316, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB)
This has been Johnson's lineup ever since Jayson Werth returned from injury.
No longer is the pitching staff carrying the load, as a healthy blend of offense and pitching has led the Nationals to where they are today.
Strong seasons from Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond bode well for the Nationals in the postseason. Each can be relied upon to hit in the clutch, while also being counted on to hit the long ball in crucial situations.
Werth has enjoyed a nice bounce-back season after finishing last season poorly. While he hasn't flashed much power, he has been very solid in the leadoff role.
Bryce Harper could be the team's offensive x-factor this postseason. His power potential and aggressive play on the bases could set the Nationals apart from the other remaining teams.
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Roger Bernadina (.294/.370/.399, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 15 SB)
Tyler Moore (.264/.327/.500, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB)
Chad Tracy (.289/.362/.482, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB)
Jesus Flores (.218/.253/.336, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 1 SB)
Steve Lombardozzi (.277/.322/.360, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 5 SB)
Eury Perez (.500/.500/.500, 2 AB, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 SB)
Mark DeRosa (.173/.300/.227, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB)
Most of the Washington bench is a lock for the postseason.
Roger Bernadina, Tyler Moore, Chad Tracy, Jesus FLores and Steve Lombardozzi have all earned their spots on the postseason roster this season.
The final spot on the bench really only comes down to two players—Eury Perez and Mark DeRosa.
DeRosa has underperformed in limited action, but his ability to play all around the diamond and outfield could be extremely valuable to the Nationals.
Perez, on the other hand, has the ability to come into a game and steal bases in clutch situations. He can play each outfield position, but his true value comes in his speed.
Prediction: Perez makes it as the team's pinch-runner.
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The Nationals are lucky enough to not have too many question marks moving forward. Generally speaking, their starters in the both the lineup and pitching rotation are well-established players or those who are enjoying breakout seasons.
One battle to watch, though, is in left field.
Left Field: Michael Morse vs. Roger Bernadina
Morse is the better offensive option in this situation, but his inability to stay 100 percent healthy could really hurt the Nationals.
Bernadina, on the other hand, has been healthy all season long. He has also provided a spark to the team whenever he's been in the lineup, so there's plenty of reason to believe that he will be able to do the same in the playoffs.
In the end, I could see it being a toss-up either way.
Prediction: Morse, but only if he is 100 percent healthy.
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