Nats go with 9 pitchers: 'Everybody's ready'

'Big three,' plus Sánchez, make Wild Card roster; Suero left off

October 1st, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had the final meetings to settle their National League Wild Card Game roster on Monday, but they had most of the final week of the season after locking up a playoff spot last Tuesday to start forming their plan.

Washington opted to carry nine pitchers on its roster, including each of its top four starters, to pitch behind . Missing from the roster was , who had become one of manager Dave Martinez’s most trusted relievers but struggled down the stretch. Instead, the Nats opted to carry a third catcher, , and two extra outfielders, and .

The Nats had already announced their intention to carry the “big three” of the starting rotation all on the roster, with both and available out of the bullpen, but cracked the roster as well. Sánchez could just be insurance if the game goes to extra innings, however, as the Nats will need someone to start a potential Game 1 of the NL Division Series in Los Angeles on Thursday.

“It’s one game -- we’ve got to win this game,” Martinez said. “Everybody’s going to be ready whenever they’re called upon.”

Perhaps most notably absent from the roster is Suero, who led the team with 78 appearances this season. He is likely to be part of the bullpen should the team advance to the NLDS. Suero was a bit more erratic in the final two months, but his 4.09 ERA in September and 4.44 ERA in August are in line with his numbers on the season. Meanwhile, -- who is on the roster -- pitched well after being first acquired by the Nats, but in his last 14 games he has given up 11 runs in 11 innings (9.00 ERA) with just seven strikeouts, six walks and five home runs.

Ideally, the Nats will only use some combination of Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, and to win the NL Wild Card Game, but there could be a situation in which Martinez needs to pull Scherzer in the middle of an inning and Strasburg and Corbin would need more time to get ready.

Martinez is going to have a number of weapons at his disposal on the bench, but no manager in the NL used fewer pinch-hitters this season than Martinez. That is in part because of the strength of his lineup, which features several players without heavy platoon splits, and representative of a starting staff that usually pitches deep into games. But on the whole, Martinez has not managed aggressively with his bench this season, so it will be interesting to watch how he uses the increased flexibility of the Wild Card roster.