LOS ANGELES - With a best-of-five National League Division Series to consider now instead of a winner-take-all wild card game, the Nationals knew they were going to need to make some roster adjustments. Those adjustments, it turns out, come in the form of two extra pitchers added to their bullpen to face the Dodgers: Wander Suero and Austin Voth.
After carrying only nine pitchers for Tuesday's wild card win over the Brewers - they actually used only three of them - the Nationals will now have 11 at their disposal for the NLDS, with Suero and Voth joining a bullpen that already featured Sean Doolittle, Daniel Hudson, Fernando Rodney, Tanner Rainey and Hunter Strickland.
Manager Davey Martinez will hope to need as few innings as possible from that group, provided his four starters (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and AnÃbal SÃ¡nchez) can reach the seventh or beyond with consistency.
The return of Suero, who led the staff with 78 appearances during the regular season but was dropped for the wild card game, comes as little surprise. With Doolittle the only lefty in the bullpen, Martinez considers Suero his next best option against left-handed hitters, of which the Dodgers have plenty.
Voth's inclusion isn't a big surprise, either, given how well he pitched down the stretch. But it does raise an interesting question of how Martinez intends to use the 27-year-old rookie, who has been a starter throughout his career.
Will the Nationals hold Voth back to serve as a long reliever in case a starter is knocked out early, or in case the game goes extra innings? Or might they try him out as a bridge reliever between starters and Doolittle and Hudson, hoping his swing-and-miss stuff is effective in key mid-game situations?
With two pitchers added to the staff, the Nationals needed to drop two position players from their roster. They chose outfielder Andrew Stevenson, who scored the tying run during Tuesday's winning rally after pinch-running for Ryan Zimmerman, and catcher Raudy Read, who was serving as insurance in case Kurt Suzuki's elbow prevented him from playing.
The Nationals bench, then, is reduced to six players for the NLDS. If Howie Kendrick and AsdrÃºbal Cabrera again start on the right side of the infield, that leaves the left-handed Matt Adams and Gerardo Parra, plus the right-handed Zimmerman, Brian Dozier, Michael A. Taylor and Yan Gomes.
Here's the full NLDS roster. (Note: A player can only be removed mid-series due to injury, and that player would then be ineligible for the National League Championship Series.)
STARTERS (4): Patrick Corbin, AnÃbal SÃ¡nchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg
RELIEVERS (7): Sean Doolittle, Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey, Fernando Rodney, Hunter Strickland, Wander Suero, Austin Voth
CATCHERS (2): Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki
INFIELDERS (7): Matt Adams, AsdrÃºbal Cabrera, Brian Dozier, Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman
OUTFIELDERS (5): Adam Eaton, Gerardo Parra, Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Michael A. Taylor
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