FanPost

Why Mark DeRosa Should (Maybe) Make the Playoff Roster, and other Roster Musings


As of Tuesday night, we know that the Nats will be facing one of three teams in the divisional round: the Giants, Braves, or Cardinals. Below I describe how I would construct the Nationals roster against each of these potential opponents.

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The Giants are a well rounded team. By and large, they hit righties slightly better than they hit lefties (Pagan, Scutoro, Sandoval, Pence all showing a slight .040 OPS advantage or so) with one glaring exception: Buster Posey hits lefties to the tune of an over .400 average and a 1.200+ OPS, but is only an .850 OPS guy versus righties. The Giants take advantage of platoon matchups regularly. Because of the giants balance, a team facing the Giants should have, if possible, a well-balanced and extended bullpen.

Pitching-wise, it is not clear who the Giants four starters will be. Matt Cain is the clear ace and game 1 starter, but after that it gets dicey. Bumgarner, Lincecum, and Vogelsong have all been hit hard in recent starts. Zito, considered by most to be the fifth starter, has been clearly better than the other three lately. But will he get the nod? I expect that he will, and that it will come at the expense of Vogelsong. Bumgarner has been less bad than Lincecum and Vogelsong lately, and Lincecum has the big contract and the reputation going for him. If that's how they line it up, it will be two righties (Cain, Lincecum) and two lefties (Bumgarner, Zito). Vogelsong will likely make the roster as a long man of sorts. The bullpen of the Giants is also well-balanced, with three quality lefties (Affeldt, Lopez, Mijares), several quality righties, and a top end closer in Romo.

A well-blanced opponent calls for a well-balanced Nationals team. DeRosa is in there instead of Lombardozzi because he can hit lefties far better. In Bernadina and Tracy, the team already has righties covered. DeRosa provides Davey with valuable bench flexibility, and he can cover the same positions as Lombardozzi defensively (albeit not as well).

Here is my proposed roster against the Giants:

SP (4): Gio, Zimm, Jackson, Detwiler

RP (8): Gorzelanny, Stammen, Mattheus, Gonzalez, Garcia, Clippard, Burnett, Storen

C (2): Suzuki, Flores

OF (5): Morse, Harper, Werth, Bernadina, Moore

IF (6): Zimm, Desmond, Espinosa, LaRoche, Tracy, DeRosa

Notable omission: Lombardozzi

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The Cardinals, on the other hand, come in lopsided. They crush left-handed pitching but hit much more meekly against righties. They sport only one left handed starter (Garcia) and have only one lefty of note in the bullpen (Rzepcynski). They will likely use Lohse in the wild-card game, and their rotation will be rounded out by Garcia, Carpenter, and Wainwright. Overall their pitching is rather weak; their starters are past their prime, and their bullpen is nothing to write home about. The Cardinals are built around their bats.

Any team that faces the Cardinals has to be prepared to hit mediocrie right-handed pitching--no problem for the Nats. The bigger challenge is their bats. Right-handed pitching is a requirement. A lefty working through the meat of the Cardinals order would have to face Beltran (.873 OPS against lefties), Holliday (1.021), Craig (1.011), Freese (.893), Molina (1.029). Not fun.

An opponent that crushes lefty pitching and has few lefty bullpen options calls for a particular Nats lineup with a secret weapon. Strasburg makes the team because against the Cardinals, Gorzelanny is useless and the Nats desperately need another fireballing righty. Stras doesn't get any scheduled starts because of his innings limit, but he is made available for a few innings of relief. Lombo gets the nod over DeRosa because the Cardinals have only one good lefty reliever (Rzepczynsk), nullifying DeRosa's advantage off the bench, and Lombo is the superior defender.

Here is my proposed roster against the Cardinals:

SP (4): Zimm, Gio, Jackson, Detwiler

RP (8): Strasburg, Stammen, Mattheus, Gonzalez, Garcia, Clippard, Burnett, Storen

C (2): Suzuki, Flores

OF (5): Morse, Harper, Werth, Bernadina, Moore

IF (6): Zimm, Desmond, Espinosa, LaRoche, Lombardozzi

Notable omissions: DeRosa, Gorzelanny

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The Braves are the virtual opposite of the Cardinals. They crush right-handed pitching but struggle against lefties. Chipper, Freeman, Bourn, and Heyward all fare worse against lefties. Prado and Reed Johnson do not make up the difference. A team facing the Braves needsall the lefty pitching it can muster to manage the heart of the order.

Pitching-wise, they will likely only throw one lefty starter (Minor; I expect Maholm not to make the cut) and three righty starters (Hudson, Medlen, Hanson), but their bullpen is stronger from the left side (Avilan, Venters, O'Flaherty) than the right side, not counting Kimbrel of course. A team facing the Braves should have a balanced bench that can get after the three premier lefty relievers in the 6th, 7th, and 8th. DeRosa is useful here.

An opponent that crushes righty pitching calls for an extra lefty (Lannan) in the starting rotation. Jackson nevertheless makes the team and is placed in the bullpen. He is ready to come in during either Detwiler or Lannan's start for multiple innings of relief. Clippard fails to make the team due to his recent troubles and the Braves crushing of righty pitching. DeRosa gets the nod over Lombo due to his advantage off the bench against left handed pitching.

Here is my proposed roster against the Braves:

SP (4): Gio, Zimm, Detwiler, Lannan

RP (8): Jackson, Stammen, Mattheus, Gonzalez, Gorzelanny, Garcia, Burnett, Storen

C (2): Suzuki, Flores

OF (5): Morse, Harper, Werth, Bernadina, Moore

IF (6): Zimm, Desmond, Espinosa, LaRoche, DeRosa

Notable omissions: Clippard, Lombardozzi

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