The Washington Nationals by now are used to making the 14 mile road trip to the north to Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium which is the Spring Training home to the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins. They are part of the four team configuration along with the Nats and Astros that call Palm Beach County home.
Today, the Nationals will start Patrick Corbin, and the Cardinals will once again start Michael Wacha against the Nats. The Cardinals should be playing mostly starters and the Nats might face Matt Wieters who has moved up to the number two catcher’s spot since the injury to Francisco Pena. Wieters took a Minor League deal with the Cardinals and was third on the depth chart until Pena’s injury.
Speaking of injuries, the Nationals are hopeful that Howie Kendrick can make it back before the start of the season after he tweaked his hamstring on Tuesday legging out an infield hit.
“MRI came back and it’s what they expected, a mild strain,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s going to be day to day. It’ll probably take him a little bit to get going again. Let him go in there with the training staff and get ready. Hopefully, it won’t take him too long. As of right now, we’re hopeful he’s ready for Opening Day. I think he’ll be ready.”
If Kendrick can make it back, the question marks are fewer.
“It’s good,” Kendrick said. “Just sore, that’s all.”
So what are the question marks remaining? Who will be the starting centerfielder between Michael Taylor and Victor Robles is one spot that will need to be filled, and the number seven pitcher in the bullpen is open unless Justin Miller is not ready to go due to his back pain leaving two spots open in the bullpen.
The bullpen certainly has some question marks, and lengthening the bullpen with Craig Kimbrel who Fangraphs projects at a +2.1 WAR would add at least 2-wins for the Nats because he could replace some negative WAR and zero WAR players.
If you had to pick the weak links in the chain of 25 pieces, the bullpen is the most suspect. Below is Fangraphs projections for the Nationals relief pitchers:
Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Stadium: Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, Jupiter Florida
1st Pitch: 1:05 pm EDT
Line-up subject to change (without notice):
Victor Robles CF
Kurt Suzuki C
Matt Adams 1B
Jake Noll 3B
Andrew Stevenson LF
Wilmer Difo 2B
Adrian Sanchez SS
Brandon Snyder RF
Matt Reynolds DH
Patrick Corbin LHP