Two players on the bubble for the Washington Nationals’ postseason roster impressed in Sunday’s win over of the New York Mets. Sammy Solis, one of the relievers that’s in the mix for a bullpen spot in the NLDS, came on with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth and struck out right-handed hitting catcher Kevin Plawecki, and 20-year-old Nats’ outfielder Victor Robles made a strong impression in right, with a leaping catch at the wall early in the game, and a big catch of a liner and throw to first for a 9-3 DP in the seventh.
Solis, who missed time with nerve irritation in his elbow earlier this season, struck out two batters in a scoreless inning on Saturday in Citi Field, leaving him with a 2.70 ERA, six walks, 19 Ks, and a .138/.219/.190 line against in 16 2⁄3 IP going back to July 29th, when he was called back up from Triple-A Syracuse.
On Sunday, Solis took the mound after the Mets scored a run to make it a one-run game, and loaded the bases with two out in the eighth.
Solis fell behind Plawecki 3-1, then threw back-to-back fastballs by the Mets’ backstop to get the Nationals out of a jam.
“When healthy,” Dusty Baker said Saturday night, “Sammy is, to me, top of the line, because he can get righties and lefties out.”
Baker was asked on Sunday if the Nationals’ lefty was back in good standing after his solid stretch of work over the last few months.
“Sammy’s always had the stuff,” the Nats’ skipper explained, “but he was hurt, which has plagued him some in his career, and so we’re just trying to get him back sharp again. He was at the top before he got hurt. You think about what a guy’s done for you, what he’s done in the past, is he throwing the ball good again, is he locating, how’s his breaking stuff, and he’s done a good job.”
Taking for granted that Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Matt Albers, and Oliver Perez are going to be in the postseason bullpen, that leaves 2-3 spots.
Will Baker and Co. keep Solis, Joe Blanton, Enny Romero, Matt Grace, or perhaps Edwin Jackson?
“Those last three or four players are going to be the tough ones to figure out,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this week, talking about the entire roster for the NLDS.
“I think it will be determined by what [are] our needs? Do we need an eighth reliever in the first round or do you want to go with seven and an extra bench player?
“Do you want to go with a long reliever instead of a short reliever, or do you want that extra speed guy to pinch run and steal a base when you have to?”
Speaking of a guy who can pinch run and steal a base... and also provide solid defense, Robles was all over the place on Sunday afternoon.
Baker talked about Robles as a potential member of the postseason roster after Friday night’s game, which saw the top prospect in the organization go 1 for 4 with a two-run triple.
Baker left the young outfielder in late in the game for an at bat with the tying run on third base and hard-throwing reliever Jeurys Familia on the mound.
Robles went down swinging, but put up a fight in a five-pitch at bat.
“That was a tough guy to face, Familia,” the manager acknowledged, “but you’re going to face tough guys especially if you’ve got a chance to make the roster here.”
So he’s saying there’s a chance?
Given another opportunity to show what he could add to the roster on Sunday, Robles made a leaping catch at the outfield wall in Citi Field in the bottom of the first, taking an extra-base hit away from Jose Reyes, then started a 9-3 double play in the seventh, catching Phillip Evans off first base after catching a liner to right field by Amed Rosario to help Joe Blanton out of the inning.
“We had some great defensive plays out there, namely the kid in right,” Baker said after the 3-2 win over the Mets.
“He made some outstanding plays, the double play, the play up against the wall, and he was fighting that sun, I don’t know if he’s seen that sun quite like this, cause I’ve seen a lot of balls lost here in the sun.”
Has Robles shown the Nationals enough to earn himself a postseason roster spot? He’s made a strong case for himself when given a chance over the last few weeks.
With a choice of Robles, Alejandro De Aza, Andrew Stevenson and Rafael Bautista, since Baker’s said he wants someone who could back up in center, Robles could make a lot of sense. Don’t forget Brian Goodwin?
Rizzo said recently that Goodwin had earned a spot if he can come back from the groin injury that’s kept him out since August 13th, and Goodwin told reporters this weekend that he thinks he’s ready.
“If he’s not then [Robles] will be in the conversation,” Rizzo told the Junkies this week.
“And I don’t think Victor will be overwhelmed with the scenarios of the playoffs.”