Washington's bullpen blew a late lead in Sunday's matchup with the Detroit Tigers, with relievers Matt Belisle (3 ER in ⅔ IP) and Burke Badenhop (2 H, 1 BB, 4 ER) struggling on the mound in what ended up a 7-6 loss in Lakeland, FL's Joker Marchant Stadium.
Dusty Baker told reporters afterwards that the relievers in camp are starting to separate themselves as the start of the season approaches and some difficult decisions will have to be made.
"They're separating themselves from the pack," Baker explained, as quoted by MASNSports.com's Mark Zuckerman:
"We're giving them the ball and we say, 'Hey, here's the ball, and it's up to you.' We're not going to rescue them every time in spring training in adverse situations. Some are doing great, and some are struggling."
This afternoon, the Nationals are back home taking on the Houston Astros in Grapefruit League action from Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, where Nats' lefty Gio Gonzalez gets the start against right-hander Scott Feldman.
Gonzalez, 30, returns to action after some time off in D.C. last week for the birth of his first child, making his fourth start of the Spring after having given up seven hits, two of them home runs, and five runs total, three earned, in 8 ⅔ IP, over which he's walked eight, struck out six and held opposing hitters to a .226 AVG.
All eight of the walks Gonzalez has allowed have come in his last two outings, when he's walked four in each start over 6 ⅔ innings.
Can the left-hander limit the free passes in his second straight start against the 'Stros? Gonzalez takes the mound at 1:05 PM EDT when the Nationals and Astros go at it again.
Here's the Nationals' lineup for this afternoon's game:
- Michael A. Taylor - CF
- Anthony Rendon - 3B
- Bryce Harper - RF
- Ryan Zimmerman - DH
- Daniel Murphy - 2B
- Wilson Ramos - C
- Clint Robinson - 1B
- Matt den Dekker - LF
- Stephen Drew SS
- Gio Gonzalez - P