Soriano move affects other bullpen arms

Before I delve into some Nationals talk, indulge me as I drop a quick Ravens statistic for anyone who might have followed me over from that beat last year.

Joe Flacco has thrown for 853 yards with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in the postseason. He's outplayed Peyton Manning and Tom Brady the last two weeks, and this is the second season in a row in which he's gone into Gillette Stadium and played well enough to get his team to the Super Bowl.

Pay the man.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Can't wait to hear 3,000 stories over the next couple weeks about the two guys who coach these two Super Bowl teams.

The Nationals have spent the last four months talking about their desire to turn Christian Garcia into a starter.

Davey Johnson talked about it during the Nats' postseason run. Mike Rizzo talked about it at the Winter Meetings.

This has been something that the team has been planning on doing for a little while now. But with the recent addition of Rafael Soriano, the Nationals now have no excuse not to follow through with that plan.

Garcia's raw stuff and his ability to ignore his lack of major league experience and thrive in high-stress situations could potentially tempt Johnson and the Nats into keeping him in their bullpen this season as another right-handed set-up guy. You can't ever have enough talented relievers.

But Soriano gives the Nats another dominant late-inning right-hander. They don't need Garcia to work the seventh inning now that Soriano is on board; they'll have Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Ryan Mattheus and even Craig Stammen as options in set-up roles. Henry Rodriguez and Bill Bray can also compete for a spot in the 'pen.

Garcia can then focus strictly on turning back into a starter, which he was earlier in his career before two Tommy John surgeries pushed him into a relief role.

"We were going to, and now it makes it easier to stretch Garcia out as a starter," Rizzo said last week at Soriano's press conference. "He'd be one of the guys we'd feel comfortable going and reaching for if something were to happen to one of our five (starters)."

The Nats are still a little short on starting depth, with Yunesky Maya and Ryan Perry probably their two most capable backup starting options within the organization at the minor league level. Garcia gives them another talented arm in that role, and should he have success as a starter would provide another capable option.

It has been the plan all along to stretch Garcia out in spring training, allow him to use his three quality pitches in a starting role and see if he can help the team in that capacity down the road.

Now, with Soriano on board, the Nats will be even less tempted to move Garcia back into the bullpen early in the year, allowing him time to get settled as a starter and hopefully serve as a nice insurance policy should one of the Nationals' five starters go down with an injury.

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