The Washington Nationals’ Opening Day roster was set as soon as they made the decision to option Adrian Sanchez and Matt Reynolds to Triple-A Syracuse following the final game in West Palm Beach, FL. this past weekend.
In advance of tomorrow’s regular season opener with the Cincinnati Reds, the Nats made it official though, releasing their 25-Man, Opening Day roster a little over 24 hours before the start of Game 1 of 162.
The top four in the rotation was set when pitchers started throwing bullpen sessions upon arriving at Spring Training, and A.J. Cole, the frontrunner going in, ended up claiming the fifth spot, in spite of a late-Spring signing (of veteran Jeremy Hellickson) that could impact plans once the right-hander is up to speed.
The bench (with Howie Kendrick back, Brian Goodwin as the fourth outfielder, Matt Adams as Adam Lind’s replacement backing up at first and in left field, and Wilmer Difo as a super-utility man) was set as soon as the Nationals re-signed Kendrick and landed Adams, and it didn’t change this Spring.
Pedro Severino started the Spring as the likely backup behind Matt Wieters, but veteran Miguel Montero signed late and took the spot on the Opening Day roster, with Severino optioned to Triple-A.
There were some questions in the bullpen, though the decision to keep eight relievers for the start of the season pushed those choices back some.
The Nationals will have to make an adjustment or two once some of their currently-DL’d players are healthy and ready, but for now, the Nationals are deep in bullpen arms, which first-time skipper Dave Martinez said was a big consideration at the start of the season.
“For me it’s about not beating up the bullpen early,” Martinez explained.
“If you look at our lineup, there are not many guys you’re going to pinch hit for, so having an extra arm in the bullpen made sense to all of us. It’s something that we collaborate with, from top to bottom and I like having an extra arm, especially early in the season.
“Remember, Opening Day is only one day,” he added, “... so things change throughout the course of a week, two weeks, three weeks, whatever, but for right now we like the way we constructed our team.”