As the roster turns

Raise your hand if you expected the following players to have made an appearance on the Nationals’ active roster by the end of May: Yunesky Maya, Fernando Abad, Jeff Kobernus, Eury Perez and Xavier Cedeno.

Stop being silly. Put your hand down.

All teams have to deal with injuries over the course of a season. It’s a part of sports, and it tests the all-important depth that your team has built up within its organization.

The Nationals have been hit with a pretty difficult test within the first two months of the season.

Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper - five of the Nationals’ eight opening day starting position players - have already needed to miss at least five games because of injury.

Tuesday will mark Ross Detwiler’s second straight missed start, and while the Nats hope he’ll be able to return to their rotation next Sunday, that’s by no means a certainty. Ryan Mattheus is on the shelf for around six weeks, and Christian Garcia is still rehabbing from a forearm injury he suffered in the early stages of spring training.

The last time that Davey Johnson was able to see all eight position players from his opening day lineup in action was April 14, more than six weeks ago.

As a result of all the injuries, the Nats have needed to turn to the likes of Maya, Abad, Kobernus and others with minimal major league experience. The newest call-up will be Cedeno, who like Abad, spent parts of the last few years in the Astros’ bullpen.

Cedeno has worked a few multiple-inning stints in his time with Triple-A Syracuse, so he could come in handy on Tuesday, when the Nationals will need another appearance from “Johnny Wholestaff”. Detwiler landing on the DL means that Davey Johnson will need to rely on a group of relievers to get through Tuesday’s game, likely with either Zach Duke or Craig Stammen getting the start.

Duke took Detwiler’s last turn in the rotation, working 3 1/3 innings last Monday, and Stammen came in and worked 2 2/3 innings behind him. It seems likely both guys will be needed again tomorrow, and I wonder whether Johnson won’t flip them this time, having Stammen get the start, with Duke piggybacking the right-hander in relief.

If you’re going to use both of your long relievers anyway, why not start the game with the more effective of the two and give yourself a better chance to take an early lead?

Despite Harper limping around for much of yesterday’s game and eventually being pulled from the game in the seventh inning, the Nats were able to pick up a win over the Phillies to take the three-game series from their rivals to the north. Up next is four games with the Nats’ closer northern neighbor, the Orioles, with two in D.C. and two in Baltimore.

Yesterday’s game was broken open in the seventh inning when Jhonatan Solano’s 60-foot ground ball up the third base line turned into two runs when Michael Young’s throw home got away from catcher Humberto Quintero. Sometimes, a quirky play like that can jumpstart a team, and that’s what happened yesterday. Solano’s slow roller opened the floodgates, leading to a 6-1 Nats win.

“All you need is that little break. We’ve been waiting for that,” Ian Desmond said. “A couple of weeks ago, they probably would have turned a double play on that swinging bunt by Solano somehow, some way. Things are starting to unfold.”

If things are able to unfold as the Nats hope, they’ll carry some momentum from the Phillies series going forward, and will then get some of their banged up bodies back from injury. This stretch could be a tough test with a number of guys out or ailing, but the Nats have been through this before. If they can sustain a fairly high level of play for the time being, things could look a whole lot better when the reinforcements arrive.

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