As of Sunday afternoon, when the Washington Nationals wrapped up their 2019 schedule with their eighth straight win to end the regular season, manager Davey Martinez said he and the Nationals’ brass were still thinking about how they’d put together their roster for tonight’s win-or-go-home Wild Card Game against Milwaukee.
Would the likelihood of a parade of pitchers taking the mound for the Brewers affect their decision-making?
“We’re going to work on some stuff tonight and tomorrow and then we’ll decided how we want to attack this,” Martinez said. “If you look at the hitters we have in our lineups, we don’t pinch hit much, these guys hit pretty much righties and lefties, so we just have to pinch hit for the pitcher, that’s about it, so with that being said we’ll see how things line up in the next day or so.”
The most important thing, the second-year skipper explained, was that everyone came out of the final weekend going strong, with one player in particular, Kurt Suzuki, finally starting behind the plate after three weeks out with an injured right elbow, and Juan Soto finishing his second season in the majors with two solid games (2 for 6, 2 2B, walk), after he was 1 for 25 (with 13 walks) over the previous nine.
“The biggest question mark for me was one guy, and that’s Suzuki, really,” Martinez said.
“I mean, I knew Juan would figure it out, he just went through a little funk and I started noticing his swing getting better a couple days ago, and he’s hitting the ball well.
“Suzuki was the big question mark, whether he can catch. And the last two days he proved that he was good to go. He’s swinging the bat well, so everybody is healthy and we’re ready to go, so come Tuesday all hands on deck.”
He did provide one hint, though it was about who might be the final man on the roster, with Martinez saying he’d prefer a position player to a pitcher.
“We’re processing all that stuff, we’re looking at all that stuff, but I would definitely like an extra guy,” he said, “... as opposed to an extra pitcher, especially when you have [Stephen Strasburg], [Patrick] Corbin, and possibly [Aníbal] Sánchez in the bullpen for tomorrow.”
As of Monday afternoon, Martinez said the Nats were still weighing their options though.
“We met this morning a little bit, we’re going to meet again,” Martinez explained.
“We’ll have it definitive here by the time I leave here, sometime this evening, but everything looks good, we’re set, everybody’s healthy, we’re set to go, so we’ll have everything done by this evening.”
This morning, the Nationals made their Wild Card Roster official:
Starter-in-the-pen heavy. Three catchers. Three backup outfielders/baserunners/stolen base threats. Anything here surprise you? 8:08 PM EDT tonight in D.C.