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Inbox: When will Nats be back at full strength?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier fields questions from Nationals fans
If the Nats get to full strength, they will have decisions to make concerning the postseason roster. (Getty Images) (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
August 21, 2017

WASHINGTON -- Seemingly each week, the Nationals have had to deal with a new injury. As Stephen Strasburg and Michael A. Taylor returned to action, they were replaced on the DL by Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Brian Goodwin and Ryan Madson.And despite the injuries, the Nationals have continued to roll.

WASHINGTON -- Seemingly each week, the Nationals have had to deal with a new injury. As Stephen Strasburg and Michael A. Taylor returned to action, they were replaced on the DL by Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Brian Goodwin and Ryan Madson.
And despite the injuries, the Nationals have continued to roll. The good news is that reinforcements are on the way. The top of the Nats' order could be whole again soon, with shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Jayson Werth scheduled to begin rehab assignments this week.
A lot of the questions for this Inbox concerned injuries and how the roster shapes up if and when the Nationals finally operate at full strength.
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The DL list is long -- 12 players to be exact -- so I'm not going to go into everybody, especially those who have not made significant progress recently.
• Werth (left foot) and Turner (right wrist) began a rehab assignment on Monday. If all goes well, they could be back sometime in the next week or so.
• Scherzer (left neck inflammation) believes he will be ready to start on Friday night against the Mets.
• Harper (left knee) is traveling with the team, although he has not been cleared to participate in baseball activities or do much. He was still walking with a limp.
• Left-hander Enny Romero (left forearm strain) started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday.
Koda Glover (right shoulder) was throwing on flat ground in West Palm Beach, Fla., and certainly seems encouraged by his progress, based off his tweet from last Wednesday.

So in short, the Nationals still have some work to do in order to get everyone back, but they do have some players taking encouraging steps to return soon. And of course, the Nationals have the luxury of a 14-game lead in the NL East. They do not have to rush anyone back and can take their time with each player's recovery to ensure he is ready for the stretch run.
By the end of last season, Washington had called up virtually every member of its 40-man roster. I'd expect something similar this year.

Not really. The Nationals as a whole and their manager Dusty Baker are a loyal bunch. Unless Werth comes back clearly hobbled, I would be shocked if he didn't take over as the full-time starting left fielder. First off, Werth was playing really well before he got injured. He had solidified himself as Washington's new No. 2 hitter behind Turner, with a .367 on-base percentage, eight home runs and a 109 OPS+ even as he turned 38 years old. He was showing that he does have something left in the tank in what could be his final season in Washington, and it's a shame it has been derailed by his fractured foot.
Now, assuming the Nationals return to full health, I think Baker will absolutely do his best to make sure Howie Kendrick and Adam Lind receive enough playing time/at-bats to stay sharp so their bats can continue to impact a game. They are both valuable off the bench to pinch-hit in key situations. Just because they don't start a game does not mean they can't be subbed in later if the pitching matchup dictates.

Adam Eaton has said from the beginning of his injury that his goal would be to work as hard as he can to at least be in position to return if the Nationals can make a deep postseason run. I'm not going to count him out or doubt him, so I think there is a chance he could be ready. Even if he is, I'm not sure it's entirely worth the risk. So much of Eaton's game relies on his speed and legs. If he is not able to run 100 percent in the outfield and use his speed on the basepaths, I'm not sure there's a reason to activate him for this season, especially considering part of the reason the Nats were so happy to acquire him during the offseason was because he is under contract until 2021.
If Harper and Werth are healthy, and considering the way Taylor and Goodwin have played the outfield with Kendrick and Lind also able to fill in if necessary, I'm not sure the reward of activating Eaton would be worth the risk.

The Nationals are going to be very deep, which could be as important in the postseason as anything. Assuming full health is a bit presumptuous considering the number of injuries, but none of them seem to be season-ending at this point. That means the starting lineup and rotation are all but set.
1 SS Turner
2 LF Werth
3 RF Harper
4 1B Ryan Zimmerman
5 2B Daniel Murphy
6 3B Anthony Rendon
7 C Matt Wieters
8 CF Taylor
RHP Scherzer
RHP Strasburg
LHP Giovany Gonzalez
RHP Tanner Roark
The bench and bullpen are a bit unsettled, but my best guess right now assumes everyone is healthy and performs to his capabilities upon returning.
LHP: Sean Doolittle, Romero, Oliver Perez
RHP: Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, Glover, Matt Albers
INF/OF Kendrick, INF/OF Lind, C Jose Lobaton, INF Wilmer Difo, OF Goodwin

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.