Roster Cuts Give Clarity to Roster Decisions
Detilwer is in the bullpen Zach Walters is in the minors and suddenly the final form of the Opening Day roster is starting to take shape. With the one questioned bullpen spot firmly in the hands of Ross Detwiler and Luis Ayala granted his release the battle comes down to Mike Gonzalez, Xavier Cedeno, Ross Ohlendorf, Christian Garcia, Manny Delcarmen, Aaron Barrett, and Blake Treinen. Matt Williams could go with a third lefty, and that would give the bullpen a very 2012 Davey Johnson feel when the Nationals had Sean Burnett as a set-up man from the left side; the role that Jerry Blevins fills now, Tom Gorzelanny as a left handed long reliever; a role Ross Detwiler could easily serve, and Mike Gonzalez as a lefty specialist; which could again be Mike Gonzalez. The other choices are to have another long man in Ross Ohlendorf which is unlikely with Detwiler and Stammen already in the bullpen, to go with a power right hander with some MLB experience in Christian Garcia or Manny Delcarmen, or to let youth be served and see what Aaron Barrett or Blake Treinen can do as major leaguers.
The most likely choice of those options is Manny Delcarmen. He has pitched great this spring with a fastball sitting around 93 and looks to have recovered the form he had back in his hay day with the Red Sox. The real reason it would be Delcarmen is that the Nationals do not need a third lefty, especially one that is only a math-up pitcher and Garcia, Barrett, Cedeno, and Treinen all have options with no opt out date like Delcarmen does, and when it comes to pitchers injuries are going to happen and the Nationals are more than likely going to need all the above listed pitchers and then some.
On the other side of the Detwiler move to the bullpen is the fifth starter battle which now comes down to Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark. Roark looked great last season in a limited sample but up until his emergency promotion to the major leagues he was on track to be nothing more than an organizational talent. Taylor Jordan was a prospect that burst on the scene last season with a quick rise through the minors. Like Detwiler, Jordan is a sinker ball pitcher but unlike Detwiler his secondary pitches are far more developed with a good change-up and solid breaking ball. Jordan's ceiling is higher than Roark's and for that reason and his increase in velocity in spring plus a new found ability to strike guys out earn him the fifth starters spot.
The pitching battles have been interesting but the bench also had some mystery to it. Anthony Rendon has done nothing to lose the second base job and Danny Espinosa's swing looks much more short and compact. Both have done what they needed to make the roster and it will be in the roles that were expected before Spring Training began. Rendon will be the Opening Day second baseman and Danny Espinosa will be on the bench as the utility infielder. That still leaves one bench spot and that battle looked to be down to Tyler Moore, Brock Peterson, and Jamey Carroll. With Espinosa as the utility infielder it would be hard for the Nationals to carry a second utility guy but with Ryan Zimmerman as LaRoche's platoon partner that could be the case, but both Tyler Moore and Brock Peterson are more of the power hitter type. Peterson has performed the best among the three, but Carroll has faced the toughest competition. If going by Spring Training stats the job should go to Brock Peterson, but if going by trying to keep everyone it should go to Jamey Carroll. The Nats spent a good part of the off-season trying to acquire players like Mark Reynolds and Jeff Baker who fit the Brock Peterson profile more than the Carroll profile and that leads me to believe the job is Peterson's to lose at this point.
Spring Training stats don't mean much except to the player competing for a spot on a major league roster. The Nationals roster is all but set. Only three spots remain up for grabs and it looks like those are nearly decided. With new information come new theories and as of right now I theorize that Jordan will grab the fifth starter spot, Manny Delcarmen the final bench spot, and Brock Peterson the final bench spot, and in about a week we'll find out if I'm correct.