The Nats haven’t had to worry about too much the last few days, other then getting guys their rest… but not too much rest! The biggest decision they’ll have to make before the playoff game, other than practice schedules, will be the NLDS roster.
Of course I’ve got a take on it, so here we go. Keep in mind I’m not projecting the roster here, I’m giving you my Nats NLDS roster. Next to their names I’ve written something about them. Most of the time it’s relevant to the conversation!
The Starting Rotation
1. Stephen Strasburg – I give him top billing in part because of how well he’s pitched recently, and what he can do when he’s on. But I also acknowledge that he’s shown if conditions aren’t right he’s not afraid to lay an egg. His home/road splits have improved greatly over the last few weeks, but 2.56 ERA in Nats Park and a 3.82 away is troubling. I want him pitching at home when possible. It’s also his first playoff game, and I don’t want an extra day of nerves or pressure if they lose game 1. I’ll let him go game 1
2. Jordan Zimmermann – I’ll take him in Game 2 so I can use him twice if need be
3. Doug Fister – Fun fact: His combined career ERA at AT&T and PNC Parks (in only 4 starts over 25 1/3 IP) is 1.07. This is also completely irrelevant as it isn’t even big enough to be called a small sample size
4. Gio Gonzalez – Since returning from the DL he’s started 18 games and has a 3.08 ERA. His arm has fewer miles on it this year than the other guys. I’m comfortable with a 4 man rotation in the NLDS.
The Starting Lineup
5. Ryan Zimmerman – I’m putting him first because damn right I’m starting Zim. He showed me he could hit enough the last week. Get him in there and watch him bring the hero bat. If he throws too many balls into the stands sit him and say his hammy tightened up. But I’m betting on him hitting more baseballs into the seats then throwing them there. Also this:
7. Adam LaRoche – I hear the Nats have a beard thing going, is this true?
8. Jayson Werth – Do you know that he has the 5th best OBP in all of baseball? Also, beards, I guess. Remember when he was the surly anti-media fan-hater in 2011? He seems to have turned into the vocal leader of the clubhouse
9. Anthony Rendon – Nats MVP, by most measures
10. Ian Desmond – His “close and late” / clutch numbers this year are terrible. I have a feeling he’s gonna have a big NLDS
11. Bryce Harper – .814 OPS since the All Star Break. Did you realize he is younger than this article?
12. Denard Span – WAR might not reflect it, due to the fickleness of defensive metrics, but I’d probably call him the Nats second best position player this year. Ok maybe third. Whatever, he’s been great.
13. Asdrubal Cabrera – The Nats have been pretty good since he’s come to the team. He’ll probably start over Zim, and I won’t lose my mind over it or anything, but he hasn’t hit much and it’s not the way I’d go
14. Jose Lobaton – Lobaton has a career .714 slugging in the postseason. That’s the same as Zim. Sure it’s in 7 ABs, a single and a HR, compared with Ryan’s 21 ABs…
15. Danny Espinosa – Used correctly, he could be really helpful. In 2014 he hit .301/.374/.485 against left handed pitching. 2014 is such a long time ago, though. Oh, wait, 2014 is this season. I’d start him over Cabrera against lefties. Williams won’t, but I would. And he’s still the best defensive infielder on the team
16. Kevin Frandsen – The bench falls off dramatically at this point. Frandsen has not had a good season. But he’s versatile on defense, and has had some key hits this year. He’s also loud and has become a bit of a mascot for this team. I get the impression he contributes to team chemistry, which doesn’t get you many points, but when all else is the same, you’ll take it
17. Michael Taylor – Lots of people want to put Schierholtz in here because he is a lefty. But, that hasn’t made him able to hit righties. I’d rather have a guy that can hit and do other things than a veteran who hasn’t shown he can hit as an effective platoon guy. I’ll take Taylor’s speed and glove over Shierholtz’s handedness
18. Drew Storen– Yet some men say in many parts of DC that Drew Storen is not dead, but had by the will of our manager Williams into another place; and men say that he shall come again, and he shall save the World Series. But many men say that there is written upon his locker this verse: Hic iacet Storenus, closer quondam, closerque futurus
19. Tanner Roark – Roark has been awesome as a starter, and I’d be comfortable bringing him in from the bullpen. I chose Gio over him because Tanner’s never pitched this many innings in his career. But it’s not an easy choice
20. Tyler Clippard – He’s been a little shaky recently, but when his changeup is right, it’s magic
21. Matt Thornton – A very good reliever who happens to be a lefty. He’s quite useful in all situations, but he’s not a shutdown guarantee against left handed hitters
22. Jerry Blevins – Ineffective against righties this year, he is poison to lefties. They are hitting .160/.202/.217 against him. I laid it out earlier this year, and Matt Williams has used him curiously this season, but he is my #1 go to guy to get a lefty in a big situation.
23. Ross Detwiler – He hasn’t been great this year, his first coming out of the bullpen. But he’s still been very good against lefties. If the Nats play the Giants, he’s a definite because of how many lefty hitters they have and how poorly they’ve fared against them
24. Blake Treinen – I considered Craig Stammen here, and I’m not sure which one to take. Stammen has been coming out of the bullpen all year and he’s a veteran presence at this point, but, like Schierholz, on the margins I’d prefer the good player than the guy who knows his role. Treinen’s numbers are great, if lucky, this year, so I’ll take the chance that he can handle the spotlight. I’m still not convinced.
25. Aaron Barrett – Other than a crappy July, possibly crappy due to a bad back that landed him on the DL in August, Barrett has a 1.54 ERA in 35 innings this year. Also he is the lead singer of nostalgically bad 90s band Reel Big Fish, who covered Take On Me.
Life is a ska-punk powered circle. What’s past is prologue.