As the calendar turns from February to March, we are down to three Washington Nationals players who have not appeared in big league games, and they are Stephen Strasburg, Justin Miller, and Ryan Zimmerman. We know where Strasburg and Zimmerman have been, but where is Justin Miller? While Strasburg pitched over the weekend on the Minor League side, he is scheduled to pitch today on the Major League side for his 2019 debut. Is today the day for Ryan Zimmerman? That is the 18 million dollar question.
UPDATED: Zimmerman is not in the lineup but reportedly is working out at the team’s facility at West Palm Beach.
“I’ve talked to [Zimmerman] today and he wants to play tomorrow,” mamager Dave Martinez said. “I told him, get through your day and then we’ll see where you’re at.”
With Max Scherzer’s 3 inning shutout yesterday, the Nats starting pitchers now have held their opponents scoreless for 12 consecutive innings. The only frame the opponents have scored was the very first inning in the first game. Unfortunately we cannot say the same for the Nats fringe bullpen arms who have been horrible as a group.
The good news is the players projected on the Nats opening day roster have looked very good. The bad news is the fringe reaches of the pitching depth on the 40-man roster and the NRIs have been mostly awful. When an organization counts on depth, you hope it comes from both the pitchers and position players. So far, most of the position players have stepped up, and the most intriguing name is Jake Noll who got his first start yesterday. After a near home run off of the outfield wall by Noll against the Red Sox starting pitcher, the next time he stepped up to the plate Noll was plunked by Boston. In his next at-bat, Noll worked a walk to boost his stats, and his batting average is now .750 with a 2.208 OPS. Yes, super small sample sizes mean almost nothing, and every February we see fast starts by players. We saw it last year with Scott Sizemore, and we saw it in 2015 with Clint Robinson. Sometimes it is Fool’s Gold, and sometimes it is buried treasure. For Noll, there is almost no chance he makes the Nats opening day roster, but he looks like a keeper and organizational depth.
For those who love underdog stories, spring training gives you the chance to stand-up and cheer the fringe players and hope there is a Tanner Roark or a Clint Robinson waiting to be discovered. It looks like Jake Noll could be that player and an MLB debut in his future.
Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins
Stadium: Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, Jupiter Florida
1st Pitch: 1:05 pm EDT
Nats Radio: MLB app (Marlins radio)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):
- Trea Turner SS
- Adam Eaton RF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Howie Kendrick 1B
- Brian Dozier 2B
- Yan Gomes C
- Andrew Stevenson LF
- Michael A. Taylor CF
- Victor Robles DH
Stephen Strasburg RHP