WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are in the middle of a relentless schedule to close out the season, a stretch in which 24 of their final 27 games are against teams with a winning record and competing for postseason contention. As the Nats march toward a spot in the National League
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are in the middle of a relentless schedule to close out the season, a stretch in which 24 of their final 27 games are against teams with a winning record and competing for postseason contention. As the Nats march toward a spot in the National League Wild Card Game, they are optimistic that, perhaps, facing such tough competition down the stretch could help benefit them come playoff time.
While they still have work to do before they clinch a spot in October, the Nats are in command of the top Wild Card slot, which would put the win-or-go-home game at Nationals Park.
• Here's how the playoff rosters might look
MLB.com is taking a crack at predicting how a potential postseason roster might shape up for each team still in contention. Rosters for the Wild Card Game can fluctuate, depending on how a team wants to approach a single game, so these projections would be for a potential National League Division Series, if Washington’s wild 2019 turnaround can carry it that far.
Catchers (2): Kurt Suzuki, Yan Gomes
Suzuki, recovering from right elbow inflammation, has not played in more than a week, but the team remains optimistic he will be able to return at some point this season. He took swings in the batting cage this weekend, and the club is hopeful he will hit on the field early this week. They are waiting until the inflammation in his right elbow goes down before he resumes throwing. The Nats plan to use Suzuki and Gomes in tandem, but Suzuki’s offensive edge and rapport with the rotation had given him a slight playing time advantage.
Infielders (7): Matt Adams, Ryan Zimmerman, Brian Dozier, Howie Kendrick, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon
The Nats have been careful with Kendrick all season, but as he continues to rake at the plate, perhaps he needs to find as much playing time as possible down the stretch and in the playoffs. Cabrera has taken over for Dozier as the starting second baseman, although Dozier has started against left-handers. Zimmerman has the edge at first base, while Adams is recovering from a sprained AC joint in his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
Outfielders (4): Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Adam Eaton, Gerardo Parra
Soto and Robles give the Nats two of the most dynamic young outfielders in the Majors, along with the steady Eaton in right field. Parra has slowed from his hot streak after signing with the Nats, but he's still expected to be their first bat off the bench to energize crowds at Nationals Park with his popular “Baby Shark” walk-up song. Should the Nats choose to carry an extra bench player instead of an eighth reliever, Michael A. Taylor or Andrew Stevenson are good candidates to receive the final spots.
Starting pitchers (4): Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Aníbal Sánchez
The Nats boast one of the best rotations in the Majors with Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin all recording 200 strikeouts this season. Sanchez rounds out a top four they feel can compete with anyone. The only question remaining for this group is how the Nats want to line them up. Scherzer has been up-and-down since his return from the injured list, but he still should be on tap to start a potential Wild Card Game, leaving Strasburg in reserve for a potential Game 1 of the NLDS.
Relief pitchers (8): Sean Doolittle, Daniel Hudson, Fernando Rodney, Wander Suero, Hunter Strickland, Roenis Elias, Tanner Rainey, Austin Voth
After another impressive start from Voth this week against the Braves, manager Dave Martinez acknowledged he has considered how Voth could fit onto this postseason roster. With the top four starters all but set, Voth is a good candidate to transition into the bullpen, giving Washington multiple innings or perhaps being summoned in high-leverage roles to induce a big out for a beleaguered bullpen.
Another spot could be open among this group considering lefty Elias is still out with a right hamstring strain. He missed nearly a month with the same injury in August, and a similar timeline to recover this month would cut it close to the end of the regular season.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.