WASHINGTON, DC – There were only a few questions left to answer about the Nationals’ 26-man roster at the end of Spring Training. Then, four positive COVID-19 test results, five subsequent contact tracing quarantines on the Major League Baseball roster, and an injury left 10 players unavailable for their season opener Tuesday against the Braves.
Catchers Alex Avila and Yan Gomes, first baseman Josh Bell, infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, left fielder Kyle Schwarber, starting left-handers Patrick Corbin and Jon Lester, and left-handed reliever Brad Hand were all placed on the roster. injured due to COVID-19 protocols. . Additionally, right-handed reliever Will Harris was placed on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to March 29) due to swelling in his right hand.
The Nats’ Opening Day 2021 roster includes two receivers, six infielders, five outfielders and 13 pitchers (three starters, 10 relievers). To complete the roster, receiver Tres Barrera, infielders Luis García and Carter Kieboom, outfielder Yadiel Hernández and right-handers Sam Clay, Ryne Harper and Kyle McGowin were called up; catcher Jonathan Lucroy contract selected; and outfielder Cody Wilson was selected as the replacement player.
Receivers (2): Jonathan Lucroy, Tres Barrera
The Nationals not only added Lucroy to their Major League Baseball roster on Tuesday, but they tagged him to catch Opening Day starter Max Scherzer. Lucroy is entering his twelfth season, after playing for the Red Sox in 2020 and going through Spring Training this year with the White Sox. Barrera is the Nats’ 19th prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He has appeared in two major league games and is coming back from missing the entirety of last season due to an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a PED in July 2020.
First base (1): Ryan zimmerman
The plan is for Bell to start at first base for most of this season’s games. Until he leaves IL, veteran Zimmerman will fill the position.
“I can play every day in the short term, I am still able to do that,” Zimmerman said Monday. “And I think [manager] Dave [Martinez is] smart on that too. He is not going to crash me to the ground the first days of the season ”.
Zimmerman, who chose not to play in 2020 due to concerns about the pandemic, hit six home runs in 10 Spring Training games this year.
Second base (2): Luis Garcia, Carter Kieboom
Hernán Pérez had the opening on Opening Day against left-hander Drew Smyly, but Garcia is likely to do so while Harrison is on the disabled list. Last year, Garcia intervened when Starlin Castro suffered a season-ending right wrist injury and made 35 starts at second. With Castro moving to the hot corner, Kieboom has been working out at second base, where he started 41 games in the minor leagues.
Third base (1): Starlin castro
The starting spot went to Kieboom to win this spring, but the Nats decided to go with veteran Castro, who played 45 games in the hot corner for the Marlins in 2019.
Shortstop (1): Trea turner
Shortstop is one of the Nats’ strongest positions thanks to Turner’s outstanding play. Last season, Turner led the majors with 78 hits and led all shortstops in batting average (.335), on-base percentage (.394), slugging percentage (.588), OPS (.982) and extra-base hits. (31). He finished seventh in the voting for the National League MVP award.
Gardens (5): Juan Soto, Víctor Robles, Andrew Stevenson, Yadiel Hernandez, Cody Wilson
Andrew Stevenson emerged as the leading candidate for fourth outfield, and will be the left field man while Schwarber is on the disabled list to complete the outfield with Soto (right) and Robles (center). Hernandez can be called upon to play left or right, and both he and Wilson made impressions in spring training with their speed.
Utility (1):Hernán Pérez
Veteran Perez joined the Major League Baseball roster after a solid spring performance. His versatility includes the ability to play second (see above), third and the gardens (see above). It also emerged as an option for an emergency receiver.
Starting pitchers (3): Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross
The Nationals’ starting rotation took a hit when lefties Corbin and Lester were placed on the disabled list. To fill the vacancies, the Nats could call in Erick Fedde and Austin Voth, who have starting experience, or use a starter in Kyle McGowin or Luis Avilán. Martinez will also take into account the limited innings that Strasburg (five) and Joe Ross (chosen not to play) threw in 2020.
Relays (10): Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey, Wander Serum, Kyle Finnegan, Erick Fedde, Austin Voth, Luis Avilán, Sam Clay, Kyle McGowin, Ryne Harper
The Nationals bullpen is built for depth. Fedde and Voth, who competed for fifth place as a starter, can pitch multiple innings. Avilán and Suero can also get more than three outs. The Nats will look to Brad Hand as the closer and will call Harris, Daniel Hudson and Tanner Rainey for the last innings. (Harris is seeking further medical attention after experiencing numbness in his right fingers; a venogram ruled out a blood clot.) Martínez said on Sunday: “We trust with the boys that we are going to keep [that] they can do the job. “