To some people, today is Valentine’s Day, and to Washington Nationals fans, this is a day of love when Spring Training officially starts. Pitchers and catchers report today to the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the lockers that were empty yesterday will be filled with gear today.
The Nationals rotation and duo of catchers are set on paper, but as we know in baseball, nothing is set in stone.
There are still question marks on the health of Strasburg and Ross which makes the roles of AJ Cole, Erick Fedde, and Austin Voth even more important. The Nationals also signed Vance Worley, Jeremy Guthrie and Jacob Turner to minor league deals for extra depth. There is a good possibility that one of Cole, Worley, Guthrie or Turner could make the roster as the long-man in the bullpen.
For the bullpen, as mentioned, the long-man spot is open and there could be one or two other spots open which could go to newly acquired Enny Romero, Austin Adams or Jimmy Cordero. The newly acquired Romero comes with no MiLB options, so he either makes the squad, goes on the DL, or has to be DFA’d or traded. That is a risk for a team with little margin for mistakes in their bullpen. The Nationals had a similar situation with Henry Rodriguez when they acquired him from Oakland in the Josh Willingham trade. Rodriguez had no options, and they put him in the bullpen and watched his impressive velo while he struggled with command. The Nationals cannot afford to stash a player in the bullpen who can’t control his pitches which makes this a story to watch.
Other storylines will come to the surface as we see the players in action. There are always the pleasant surprises to the opposite of the spectrum with the disappointments. This is why we play the games.