Thirteen outfielders. Eleven starters. Thirteen relievers. Six different players in center field alone. With all the injury issues, it’s a minor miracle that Washington’s Nationals are where they are, with a 15.0-game lead in the NL East, and a magic number of 14 with less than a month to play in the regular season.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo talked this past Wednesday about the Nationals being on pace for 97-98 wins in spite of all the injuries and setbacks they’ve suffered.
“Really pleased and happy about how we’ve battled through trials and tribulations and the massive amount of injuries we’ve had,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies, “and guys that through our minor league system — our player development and scouting has just been so huge this year, probably the biggest year ever because of what we’ve put into the major leagues this year from our minor league system, it’s remarkable.
The Nationals are slowly, but surely, getting the band back together, but while the expected everyday players have been out, the prospects and minor leaguers they’ve called upon have filled in admirably and helped the defending NL East champs get where they are now.
“Guys [are] just stepping up and playing probably in some cases a year ahead of their development pace,” Rizzo said, “but every guy who’s come up here has known how to play the game, has conducted themselves as big leaguers and as professionals and really performed well. It’s incredible, we’ve had 13 different outfielders this year, we’ve had probably 45-50 players from the 40-Man roster that have contributed this year, and I attribute it to the coaching staff and the minor league player development and scouting guys.”
By Baseball-Reference’s count, the Nationals have had 47 players total contribute to the cause this season.
Here are the nine who will try to give the Nats a shot at a split of their four-game set in Miller Park after the Nationals dropped the first two with Milwaukee’s Brewers.