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Nats Postseason Stock Watch: Everything's coming up Jerry!

In the penultimate game of the regular season, we didn't get to see the candidates for the final bench spots show off. We did see a dominant outing from Stephen Strasburg in a convincing 5-1 win over the Miami Marlins. A few of the players in the hunt to make the postseason saw some action, though. Let's see what they did.

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With just one game on the schedule (no doubleheader!) and the ace taking the hill, Matt Williams played all of his starters on Saturday.  All of the regulars played at least five innings as the Nationals jumped ahead early and rolled to a 5-1 win over the Miami Marlins.  Stephen Strasburg ran his scoreless streak to 20 innings in the victory.

Strasburg notched seven strikeouts, pushing his season total to a league-leading 242.  He'll end up finishing the regular season with a 14-11 record, a 3.14 ERA (2.95 FIP, 2.56 xFIP) and a 1.12 WHIP.  Over the past calendar month, Strasburg has gone 4-1 with a 1.13 ERA, a 0.76 WHIP, and a 40:3 strikeout to walk ratio in 39.2 innings.  As Patrick pointed out the other day, Strasburg should be taking the ball in Friday's Game 1 of the NLDS.

In the second half of today's game, we did get to see some guys who are fighting to make the postseason roster, though.  As the title of this article indicates, that's who we're going to focus on.  First, an updated list of the players that appear to have locked up their spots:

Player Position Spots
Wilson Ramos C 1
Jose Lobaton C 2
Adam LaRoche 1b 3
Asdrubal Cabrera 2b 4
Anthony Rendon 3b 5
Ian Desmond SS 6
Bryce Harper LF 7
Denard Span CF 8
Jayson Werth RF 9
Danny Espinosa 2b/SS 10
Ryan Zimmerman ??? Bench 11
Kevin Frandsen 1b/2b/3b/OF 12
Stephen Strasburg SP 13
Jordan Zimmerman SP 14
Doug Fister SP 15
Gio Gonzalez Pitcher 16
Tanner Roark Pitcher 17
Drew Storen RP 18
Tyler Clippard RP 19
Matt Thornton RP 20
Jerry Blevins* RP 21

Jerry Blevins

  • Situation: Entered the game leading 2-0 in the 7th inning.  Marlins had Justin Bour (L), Kike Hernandez (R), and Jordany Valdespin (L) due up
Blevins absolutely dominated Bour, striking him out swinging on three pitches, including a filthy curveball to close out the at bat.  He induced a shallow fly ball by Hernandez and got a grounder from Valdespin to end the inning.  He threw 8 of 10 pitches for strikes and didn't surrender any hard contact.

Analysis: I figure that Blevins' regular season is probably done.  How about we let MASN Dan tell us why Blevins is no longer on the bubble:

Blevins has had his ups and downs this season, but he's been terrific down the stretch.  He's earned his way onto the Nats' postseason roster.

On The Bubble/Probably In

Aaron Barrett RP 22
Craig Stammen RP 23

Neither Barrett nor Stammen pitched today.  Clippard and Storen both pitched Saturday, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see the Nats go in a different direction if there's a late lead on Sunday.  Barrett has looked terrific all month.  Stammen backed onto the bubble with an extremely poor outing on Friday night.  I'll make final calls as to who I think will be there when I post this on Monday.  For now, these two guys could both still have a little something to prove.

On The Bubble/Steady

Player Position
Nate Schierholtz OF
Michael Taylor OF
Rafael Soriano RP
Ross Detwiler RP
Steven Souza, Jr. OF
Scott Hairston OF

As I've done the past few days, the players in bold saw action in today's game.  Soriano and Detwiler both pitched in Friday's Game 2.  Hairston didn't pinch hit today.

Nate Schierholtz

  • Situation: Pinch hit for Strasburg in the 6th inning against Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi (R).
Schierholtz put up a pretty good fight, fouling off three 1-2 pitches before eventually flying out to shallow right field.

Analysis: Saturday's at bat didn't do much to change his stock one way or the other. Schierholtz still has an edge based on the fact that Danny Espinosa is the only other left-handed option off the bench.

Michael Taylor
  • Situation: Pinch hit for Denard Span in the 7th inning against Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi (R). Had a second at bat in the 8th inning against Marlins reliever Anthony Desclafani (R).  Went 0 for 2 with a strikeout.
  • He didn't have any particularly tough chances in CF.

Let's not focus on results based thinking.  Taylor had a great battle with Eovaldi in the 7th.  He ran the count full and fouled off the first 3-2 offering before ripping a one hopper that happened to find Adeiny Hechavarria's glove.  In his second at bat, Taylor struck out looking at a 2-2 fastball that was about shin high (well below the strike zone).  He was 0 for 2 today, but he had two very strong plate appearances.

Analysis: Taylor remains the best option to take over in CF if anything were to happen to Span.  Harper or Schierholtz could play CF if necessary, so he isn't the only player on the roster who could fill that role.  Taylor is also a potential stolen base threat off the bench.  Danny Espinosa is the only other player on the bench that would be an attractive pinch running option.

Steven Souza, Jr.

  • Situation: Entered as a defensive replacement for Jayson Werth in the 9th inning.  Made a routine play.
Analysis: Since being recalled on September 1, Souza has gotten 2 starts and 13 plate appearances.  He did homer in each of those starts, but those are the only two hits that he's had.  I still think he's a better hitter at this point than Frandsen, Hairston, Schierholtz, or Taylor, but each of them bring something else he lacks.  In the case of the first three, that's experience at the big league level.  In the case of Taylor, it's his speed and defensive ability.

If I were in charge of the roster and had to finalize it right now, here's what it would be:

Player Position Spots
Wilson Ramos C 1
Jose Lobaton C 2
Adam LaRoche 1b 3
Asdrubal Cabrera 2b 4
Anthony Rendon 3b 5
Ian Desmond SS 6
Bryce Harper LF 7
Denard Span CF 8
Jayson Werth RF 9
Danny Espinosa 2b/SS 10
Ryan Zimmerman ??? Bench 11
Kevin Frandsen 1b/2b/3b/OF 12
Nate Schierholtz OF 13
Michael Taylor OF 14
Stephen Strasburg SP 15
Jordan Zimmerman SP 16
Doug Fister SP 17
Gio Gonzalez SP 18
Tanner Roark RP 19
Drew Storen RP 20
Tyler Clippard RP 21
Matt Thornton RP 22
Jerry Blevins RP 23
Aaron Barrett RP 24
Craig Stammen RP 25

It should be interesting to see what the Nats do with the lineup on Sunday.  It would be nice to see the fans have one more chance to cheer the starters on in the regular season.  With everything wrapped up, it could also be an opportunity for Williams to give some of the players battling for those final spots a little more of an opportunity to change his mind.  We'll see what happens.