Postseason roster battles heat up for Nats

Robles, Jackson trending in opposite directions in bids to make NLDS squad

September 23rd, 2017

WASHINGTON -- As the Nationals make crucial decisions about their postseason roster during the coming weeks, manager Dusty Baker will try to judge track records along with recent performances. A pair of players competing for postseason spots could be trending in opposite directions following the Nats' 7-6 loss to the Mets on Friday night.

On one hand, top prospect -- the No. 2 prospect in MLB as rated by -- continued to impress in his short amount of playing time. He raced around the bases for a two-run triple in the fifth inning that gave Washington a five-run lead. But right-hander could not hold on, surrendering five runs to the Mets in the bottom of the fifth before he was out of the game.

Baker used the game as an opportunity to judge both players as they compete for spots on the Nationals' playoff bullpen and bench.

Even when Jackson got himself into trouble in the fifth, Baker allowed him to face one more batter to try and work his way out of the jam. And despite having a full bench in the ninth inning, Baker allowed Robles to face right-hander with the game on the line. Even though Jackson gave up a three-run homer and Robles struck out, Baker was happy to see each player in those types of situations.

"We can't rescue them all the time," Baker said. "Let's see what you got and what you can do."

Once seemingly a lock to make the Nationals' postseason roster, Jackson has struggled recently. He has given up 22 runs in 16 innings (12.38 ERA) during his last four starts after posting a 2.94 through his first eight starts.

"You're not thinking about it, but everybody's pitching for a spot right now," he said. "It's no secret. When it comes [to the] postseason, the best people that are pitching well at the time, those will be the ones that make the roster. But I mean, it's not like you're going out and putting extra pressure on yourself or anything because of that situation."

And even though Robles has appeared in just six games with 13 at-bats, he is starting to feel comfortable at the plate. Two of his four hits have been triples and he owns two of the three fastest three-baggers that Statcast™ has ever tracked for the Nationals. That kind of blazing speed could be enticing for the Nats' bench in the postseason.

"Every time I get an opportunity to showcase my skills, I try to do my best," Robles said. "And hopefully I'll make that roster."