While the Nationals get set to take on the Dodgers for a three-game series in Los Angeles, Matt Williams will get used to a more crowded clubhouse. September is here, allowing for expanded rosters.
To kick off the month, the Nats added six players: right-hander Aaron Barrett, left-hander Xavier Cedeno, catcher Sandy Leon, first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore, outfielder Steven Souza Jr., and right-hander Blake Treinen.
“That’s the beauty of having all these guys in September,” Williams said to reporters in Los Angeles. “You have more bullets.”
These call-ups are all familiar faces, as they all have played in games for the Nats this season. Souza was with the team before having to go on the disabled list with a left shoulder contusion.
“We’re going to to try to get him as many at-bats as possible. ... He plays all three, he’s got good power, he’s had a fantastic year, just stay with his approach and do what he does,” Willisams said. “If he does that, he can help us win.”
This season, Souza was named the International League Player of the Year. He led the league in batting average (.350), on-base percentage (.432) and slugging percentage (.590).
The Nats will also have more weapons in the bullpen in Barrett and Cedeno, allowing Williams to tinker with match-ups in later innings.
“(Barrett’s) full-go right now. He’ll serve the same role as he did before,” Williams said. “He’ll come in and be our wipeout righty in an inning or he’ll throw an inning depending on how the match-up goes. So, he’s fresh and he’s ready, which is good. We need him. ...
“(Cedeno’s) more situational. He’ll be more situational, come in and get a batter, you know, like we used Matt Thornton the other night. To come in and get one. That opportunity presents itself all the time potentially in the sixth when you’ve got two outs, maybe you’ve got a lefty and then a righty, we can get both those guys hot and try to get through that sixth to set up the bullpen for the seventh and beyond.”
Why did these six players get the call-up now?
“Just the fact they can help us,” Williams said. “Tyler gives us certainly right-handed power, he gives us the ability to play first and play left. Sandy gives us a third catcher. ... We gotta play games, we gotta win games.”
As for tonight, Gio Gonzalez will get the start for the Nationals. The lefty went 0-2 with a 3.77 ERA in August - the team went 2-3 in his August starts - but he also hasn’t gotten much run support lately. Does Williams think that affects the starter?
“Not him. His personality is such is that he’s not worried about that. What he’s worried about is executing pitches,” Williams said.
In contrast, the Nats have been on a recent power surge, hitting 14 home runs in the first six games of the roadtrip.
“We’re not going to live and die by that though,” Williams said.” I think that’s a little bit of an aberration for our team because we’re not a huge power-hitting team, we’re a good at-bat guy team, you know? We put at-bats together and try to score runs that way. But we’ll take them. We’re not giving them back.”