Steve Mears: “Next man up” and the postseason roster

The Nationals have been holding tryouts for the postseason roster, and last night, Dusty Baker made some calculated moves, some interesting moves and some moves out of necessity.

The moves out of necessity were to replace Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, as both are nursing injuries. Then Baker had to replace Wilson Ramos, who left the game with an apparent right knee injury. Baker went to Pedro Severino over Jose Lobaton in what Baker described after the game as “next man up.” While you cannot definitively read into any moves, we will see who starts tonight and tomorrow and the next day at catcher.

Brian Goodwin got the start in right field last night in place of Harper when Baker had several options to use other players, and could have reconfigured the outfield to accommodate some other moves. Goodwin again stepped up and had two of the best at-bats of the game. With a runner on second base and two outs, Goodwin worked a 3-2 count and ripped an RBI triple into the corner. In his next at-bat, Goodwin started with a 0-2 count with bases loaded, as he was overaggressive. Goodwin took a deep breath and then worked the 0-2 count into a bases-loaded walk. Goodwin is now batting .324 with an .861 OPS.

Inserting the right-handed-hitting Chris Heisey against right-hander Archie Bradley was surprising, in that Baker went to Heisey over left-handed-hitting Clint Robinson, who is batting just .176 as a pinch-hitter, although Robinson is batting .500 (5-for-10) with bases loaded this year. By the way, Heisey struck out.

Stephen Drew continues to get the bulk of the starts in place of Murphy, and Drew continues to get it done offensively and defensively. Drew is now batting .280 with an .889 OPS.

In the latter innings, Baker used both Michael Taylor and Wilmer Difo as pinch-hitters. Taylor struck out and Difo worked a walk. Difo is now batting .292.

While September statistics can be misleading, small sample sizes can be more misleading, which makes analyzing much of what we have seen difficult when making roster decisions.

The Nationals will be facing the Dodgers in the first round of the National League Division Series. That much is known, and while the venue for Game 1 has not been set, you can bet the Nationals will face Clayton Kershaw in that game. That matchup and the subsequent games will determine much of who is in the starting lineup. Filling in the third and fourth starting pitchers, the bullpen and the bench will be a difficult process.

Next man up.

Steve Mears blogs about the Nationals for Talk Nats. Follow the blog on Twitter: @TalkNats2. His thoughts on the Nationals will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

blog comments powered by Disqus