The Nationals coaching staff and front office are meeting this afternoon for a final discussion of their 25-man roster for the National League Division Series, with several tough decisions still on the table.
The lingering uncertainty over Max Scherzer’s right hamstring has complicated matters, with the Nationals left wondering if they need to carry an extra pitcher as insurance for their ace right-hander, who is now targeting Game 3 at Wrigley Field to make his one and only start in the best-of-five series.
All clubs have until 10 a.m. Friday morning to submit their NLDS rosters.
The Nationals will carry seven relievers for certain, with five of those spots seemingly locked in: Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Matt Albers and Oliver Pérez. Left-hander Sammy Solís made a strong push in September to be included on the staff, with veteran right-hander Joe Blanton also making a case after a rough first half of the season.
The only other short-relief option is lefty Enny Romero, who was inconsistent in his return from a forearm strain. The remaining candidates are starters (Edwin Jackson, A.J. Cole) or a reliever with experience throwing multiple innings (Matt Grace).
Cole, for what it’s worth, was seen packing up his locker this afternoon following the club’s workout at Nationals Park, suggesting he won’t be included on the NLDS roster.
Also seen packing his things and departing was infielder Adrián Sanchez, who seemed like a longshot all along to make the club.
The Nationals have several bench decisions to make, starting with a determination of whether Brian Goodwin is ready to be activated after missing the last 7 1/2 weeks with a groin strain. The rookie outfielder has done everything in his power to show he’s healthy and ready to go, having played in the instructional league in West Palm Beach, Fla., last week and participated fully in workouts this week in D.C.
If the Nationals decided not to take the risk with Goodwin, they would be left to keep either journeyman Alejandro De Aza or one of two rookies (Victor Robles, Rafael Bautista) as a backup outfielder.