When the Washington National finished Spring Training in Florida, they made the decision to send Joe Ross to Triple-A Syracuse in a move that probably was not necessary since Dusty Baker chose a 6-man bench that went under-utilized instead of keeping an extra pitcher, and normal April scheduling allows you to carry an extra bullpen or bench player for weeks most years before you need a 5th starter. But that was not the case in this year’s schedule as the Nationals needed a 5th starter on the 6th game of the season. The Nationals called up Jeremy Guthrie who unfortunately only lasted 2/3 of an inning in his Nationals’ tenure as he gave up the equivalent of a touchdown and an extra point to these same Philadelphia Phillies the Nationals are facing this weekend.
This would have been Guthrie’s spot today if he was still in the rotation with the day-off yesterday. Now, Stephen Strasburg will start on normal rest as he pitched last Sunday. Aaron Nola will pitch with an extra day’s rest as he pitched in that Saturday game against Guthrie.
Yesterday, Joe Ross pitched a gem for the Syracuse Chiefs against a potent Pawtucket Red Sox team, and Ross pitched his first five innings of shutout baseball. Ross gave up a run in the 6th inning and then finished up the seventh with a 1-run, 85 pitch performance with 6 strikeouts and no walks. The Nationals will need a 5th starter on or before April 22nd based on the scheduling. The options are very limited now that the 40-man roster is now full at 40 players since Matt Albers and Grant Green took the last two open spots. Besides Joe Ross, the remaining starters on the 40-man roster are Austin Voth and A.J. Cole. The complication is that A.J. Cole was suspended for 5 games in 2016, and only served 2 games leaving 3 games to serve as soon as he is activated. One additional twist to the Nationals 40-man roster is that Jose Marmolejos is on the 60-day DL, and he might need his roster spot back at some point next month.
Discussions we saw yesterday on Twitter were saying Joe Ross would not fit an April 22nd start since he isn’t lined up for a start 9 days from now which is true, but Mike Rizzo does not have to wait until April 22nd to call-up his 5th starting pitcher. He could insert Joe Ross next week on Tuesday April 18th in Atlanta on regular rest or even Wednesday April 19th on an extra days rest. Problem solved in a very simple way. The more difficult decision is which relief pitcher out of the 8 that are currently in the Nationals’ bullpen becomes the corresponding move off the active big league roster? The bullpen is now comprised of Matt Albers who is now the long-man, Enny Romero, Sammy Solis, Oliver Perez, Shawn Kelley, Koda Glover, Joe Blanton and Blake Treinen.
The current quadrumvirate of Washington Nationals starters have been excellent as they have pitched to a 2.31 combined ERA. Gio Gonzalez has a 0.69 ERA, Max Scherzer is at 2.13, Stephen Strasburg is at 3.21, and Tanner Roark is at 4.09.
The day-off yesterday will really give a rest to the Nationals’ 8-man bullpen, and Dusty Baker can enjoy that current configuration for a while longer until he has to decide who has to depart off of the roster.
Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 4:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, CSN Philadelphia, MLB.TV
Line-ups (subject to change without notice):
- Adam Eaton CF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Bryce Harper RF
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Jayson Werth LF
- Matt Wieters C
- Wilmer Difo SS
- Stephen Strasburg RHP