Over the weekend, I took a look at the options for the Nationals' postseason bench spots.
On Monday, Patrick asked us if Rafael Soriano belongs in the postseason bullpen. I voted in the poll (Yes, because the question was "Will" not "Should" he be in the postseason bullpen), but didn't really respond in the comment section because I felt the following question was something that required an in-depth look.
If Rafael Soriano isn't in the postseason bullpen, who fills that last spot? Is it Jerry Blevins and his 5.17 ERA? Could the Nats decide to go with Xavier Cedeno, who spent most of his time in Syracuse this season but was a lights out LOOGY? Will they decide that a seven man bullpen (including the loser of the rotation battle) is more than enough and carry a sixth bench bat? Is there some sneaky candidate that nobody is paying attention to?
These are all possibilities. At any rate, let's look at the seven guys who are probably going to be in the bullpen first.
- Drew Storen
- Tyler Clippard
- Matt Thornton
- Aaron Barrett
- Craig Stammen
- Ross Detwiler
- Tanner Roark/Gio Gonzalez
Breaking down the obvious choices
I promised a stealth candidate, so how about Blake Treinen?
Again, we see a pretty pronounced split, with more than a 100 point difference in batting average and a 97 point difference in wOBA. Treinen has been incredibly effective against right-handed hitters, though, and he's taken advantage of every opportunity the Nats have given him to showcase his stuff. If you're dead set against Soriano but think that the Nats should carry another right-handed arm in the bullpen, is there really a choice other than Treinen to fill that spot?
Who should it be?
Much like the bench article from the other day, let's start with who I'd like to see make it. After breaking everything down, I'm still kind of undecided. Based on his experience and his performance over the entire season, it's hard to say Soriano shouldn't make the roster. However, he's been brutal lately, and recent performance has to factor in when I'm deciding who I want to carry for a short series. I'd be making sure Soriano gets three more outings this week. If he looks good, the spot is his. If not, I'll go in a different direction. I'd also like to see Cedeno and Blevins get an outing or two in a true LOOGY situation, assuming the Mets and Marlins comply.
At the end of the day, I'm going to go off the board. I'll take Blevins over Detwiler. I'll stick with a seven man bullpen. I'll carry an extra bench spot and give it to a pinch running threat like Michael Taylor or Jeff Kobernus.
Who will it be?
There hasn't been a lot of talk about Detwiler missing the postseason bullpen, which means I believe he's going to be there. It likely comes down to Soriano or Blevins for the final spot. I would think that this week will be important for both of them in determining who makes it. I would also think that the Gio Gonzalez vs. Tanner Roark "battle" for the final rotation spot could play a role in determining whether the Nats want that final bullpen arm to be right-handed or left-handed. I think they'll go with Soriano when everything is said and done.