Game #4 The Nats are home against the Mets; A lesson on making the team from the longest of odds!

Brandon Snyder‘s walkoff hit on 2/23/2020; Photo by Tom Sileo for TalkNats

If you followed Sunday’s split-squad games which were being played simultaneously at FITTEAM and in Jupiter, you hopefully were able to follow the radio call of Charlie Slowes as the Nationals had a walk-off single by DC’s own Brandon Snyder (Westfield High School, Centreville, Virginia) to get the Nats to 1-0 in Grapefruit League play. Minutes later, the game in Jupiter ended as Derek Self self-destructed and blew the save as the Nats lost against the Marlins. Most of the records do not matter unless you are a player fighting for a job. Who knew on February 23rd of last year that injuries would give opportunities to players like Jake Noll, Andrew Stevenson and Wander Suero. Just because Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez referred to Stevo as his 5th outfielder does not guarantee Michael A. Taylor the bench spot nor does it guarantee Stevo the fifth spot on the bench. Wilmer Difo, Adrian Sanchez and others are all fighting for spots on the roster. Health is the number one factor as we know going into the final roster selection. Having an outstanding Spring Training can’t hurt, and Noll like Clint Robinson before him shows that NRIs can make it.

This time around, Noll is not an NRI as he is on the 40-man roster, but he finds himself as a long-shot once again. Noll wasn’t a “one-hit wonder” as he has two MLB hits on his record and a walk-off albeit on a bases loaded walk. He will also have a World Series ring that he earned. Guys like Noll and Robinson and others before them give players like Brandon Snyder some hope. This is what makes Spring Training so special. It is about six weeks of guys like Snyder trying to show that he belongs. Who knows where that opportunity will be on this 2020 team.

The biggest competition this spring seems to be with the back-end of the rotation. Austin Voth pitched well yesterday although he wasn’t exactly facing the starting lineup of the Astros. Up in Jupiter, Erick Fedde had a mixed outing in his simultaneous split-squad start yesterday. They are competing with Joe Ross for that coveted 5th starter’s spot in the rotation as well as possibly the long-man in the bullpen.

“It’s definitely big,” Martinez said about Voth. “He’s come a long way. For me, it’s about getting early outs in counts, and getting out of that four-inning, 75-pitch mark. And I think he can do it. Because he throws strikes, with two strikes, finish [off] hitters, we told him this spring that’s what we want him to focus on, and he did a good job.”

Few Nats starters will be in today’s lineup even though the game is being played at home for the Nationals at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches at 1:05 pm. Right-hander Wil Crowe will start for the Nats. He played in Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Fresno last year. Drafted in the 2nd round from University of South Carolina, Crowe has been an interesting prospect with a great showing in 2018 at High-A Potomac, but last year he was clobbered at Fresno in that batter’s league as he struggled to a 6.17 ERA and a 1.704 WHIP. He will have to show that those stats mean nothing because baseball does give second chances. But now he has to be in a prove-it type of redemption while before it was a show-me. Today he will have a chance for both on the mound facing many starters from the NY Mets who will travel south from Port St. Lucie.

One player who Crowe won’t have to face is Yoenis Cespedes. Not seen in an MLB lineup since July of 2018 when he left the active roster with heel problems then suffered ankle injuries, Céspedes says he plans to play in spring training games by the middle of March. Depending on how that goes, we will possibly see the colorful Cespedes later on in spring training or on March 26 when the Mets host the World Series champs on Opening Day.

The Mets will be pitching lefty David Peterson today, and will have a whole lot of starters around him today like Jeff McNeil (L) 3B, Brandon Nimmo (L) CF, Pete Alonso (R) DH, Michael Conforto (L) RF, Wilson Ramos (R) C, and Dominic Smith (L) 1B. The Mets lineup will be filled out with some familiar names like Eduardo Nunez (R) 2B and Luis Guillorme (L) SS. In addition, Tim Tebow is listed as a reserve. He was recently approached by the XFL to be their biggest name but he opted to continue his dream of playing baseball for the Mets.

There is no radio or TV coverage today. We will have to follow along on social media and on the MLB GameDay™ app, and right here at TalkNats. Yesterday, Sao Magnifico did a magnificent job of simultaneously commenting on a play-by-play of both games on our game thread. It was very good as he must have had two keyboards going as he was pounding the ivories like a pianist with all ten fingers. In addition he was flashing up photos of some of the players. Just great stuff!

Here is how the Nats will lineup today:

  1. Trea Turner (R) DH
  2. Adam Eaton (L) RF
  3. Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 3B
  4. Yan Gomes (R) C
  5. Mac Williamson (R) LF
  6. Drew Ward (L) 1B
  7. Adrian Sanchez (R) SS
  8. Jake Noll (R) 2B
  9. Emilio Bonifacio (S) CF


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