Despite injuries, Nationals roster nearly set

March 6th, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It’s the Nationals’ first off-day of the spring and Nationals manager Dave Martinez wants his players to spend it away from the facility. It’s about halfway through the Grapefruit League season, and Opening Day is about three weeks away, so it’s time to assess the Nats’ roster once again.

Not much has changed from the initial predictions at the start of camp, but a few minor injuries mean there are some question marks. Howie Kendrick strained his left hamstring Tuesday and is set to receive an MRI. Koda Glover is still shut down with a right forearm strain. And Justin Miller received an anti-inflammatory shot for his stiff back and was scheduled to play catch Tuesday.

At the start of Spring Training, made its predictions for the 25 players who would make the big-league club and it’s time to revisit those initial picks.

Catcher (2): ,

What changed? Nothing. The Nats haven’t given a very clear picture of how they plan to split playing time between the two, but Gomes will likely start Opening Day. From there, manager Dave Martinez plans to split their playing time based on a variety of factors -- matchups against opposing pitchers, starting pitcher comfort, who’s hotter at the plate -- but he does not have a specific number of games in mind.

First base (2): , Matt Adams

What changed? Nothing. Zimmerman’s playing in Grapefruit League games and Adams has been getting at-bats at first base and as the DH.

Second base (1):

What changed? Nothing. Martinez plans to play Dozier with Trea Turner in games as much as possible this spring to get them comfortable with each other in the field.

Third base (1):

What changed? Nothing. When he’s healthy, Rendon will play. A lot.

Shortstop (1):

What changed? Nothing. Turner appeared in all 162 games last season, and while Martinez may look for opportunities to give him a breather, he will play often.

What changed? Nothing. Martinez says Taylor and Robles are competing for playing time in center field. The Nats are going to give Taylor opportunities to play, but Robles is their starting center fielder.

What changed? These both might be question marks at the moment. The results of Kendrick’s MRI could change things. The Nats might decide this mild hamstring strain is a sign they should be even more cautious with a 35-year-old player who is coming off Achilles surgery in May. It’s also no longer a lock Difo makes this team over Adrian Sanchez. They are also trying to convert Sanchez into a super-utility player and he’ll see some action at first base in a Minor League game Thursday.

What changed? Nothing. This group started the spring strong and has given Martinez nothing to worry about.

What changed? Justin Miller was not on the initial list because I underestimated how highly the Nats thought of him. He should be given credit as he was good for them last year when they needed it. Martinez made it clear “a healthy Justin Miller will be in our bullpen.” The question is will he be healthy? The back issue concerns me, but I don’t think enough to say he won’t be ready for Opening Day. He’s still got time to get healthy. I don’t think Koda Glover will be ready for Opening Day at this point. He hasn’t thrown in more than a week, there doesn’t seem to be a timetable and because of his injury history, the Nats are going to be cautious.

Here’s the breakdown for round 2 of the 25-man roster projections:

Yan Gomes
Kurt Suzuki

Ryan Zimmerman
Matt Adams
Brian Dozier
Trea Turner
Anthony Rendon

Juan Soto
Victor Robles
Adam Eaton
Michael A. Taylor

Howie Kendrick
Wilmer Difo

Max Scherzer
Stephen Strasburg
Patrick Corbin
Anibal Sanchez
Jeremy Hellickson

Sean Doolittle
Trevor Rosenthal
Kyle Barraclough
Wander Suero
Matt Grace
Justin Miller
Sammy Solis