Game #5 of Spring Training is set in Tampa!

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

We have Washington Nationals baseball today on national TV. Thanks to Aaron Judge and the Yankees for getting ESPN to cover this game. In the NYC area, the YES Network will provide TV for the home team today in Tampa. These two teams will meet again at the end of March at Nationals Park to wrap up the preseason in an exhibition game two days prior to Opening Day. Recently, Steve Phillips of MLB Network Radio compared Nats’ top prospect James Wood to Judge. Well, today they will both be on the same field and maybe even taking a photo together. Come to think of it, Jim Bowden comp’d Wood to Giancarlo Stanton, and he’s playing for the Yankees in this game also. Today’s starting lineup has three of the nine players you would expect on Opening Day with CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia, and Joey Meneses. Today’s starting pitcher is Corey Abbott who is certainly a bubble player competing for a spot on the Nats’ opening day roster. Yesterday’s starter for the Nats, Patrick Corbin, was far from good as he allowed two first inning home runs to the Cardinals. After three disastrous seasons for Corbin, his World Series’ great season certainly looks like the outlier year on his Nats’ record unless he can turn things around. It really could call into question general manager Mike Rizzo’s commitment to winning if Corbin has a poor spring training and is handed a roster spot again. First things first, are there five starting pitchers better than Corbin? That is what we have to see.

“I mean, it’s tough giving up those two homers, but I think overall I felt really good,” Corbin said. “I thought the ball was coming out pretty good for my first start. Got swing and miss on all of my pitches. … First step, and I feel pretty good.”

“I just look at where the pitches were,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We want him to throw the ball down. Both those pitches were up. We’ve got to get him to understand to pitch down. He can go up every now and again. But for the most part, he’s got to understand that he’s got to get the ball down.”

The Nats enter this game with a 2-2 record. The first two wins were achieved in the first two games of Grapefruit League play, and frankly, yesterday was a sloppy game. The Nats had their first error from a projected starter as Jeimer Candelario had an errant throw. The Nats in all, had three errors yesterday. Let’s hope this is a clean game. Dominic Smith, who won’t be playing in this one, is the only Nats’ projected starter without a hit, and he needs to get on it. He will be working on the back fields today with many of the other starters who did not have to wake up in the 5 0’clock hour to make the 6:15 am bus to Tampa. That’s a 3 ½ hour drive from West Palm Beach to Tampa on a good day. Another reminder that early Spring Training is supposed to be about process, and with good process comes good results in the larger sample sizes. The good news from the veterans is that we are seeing good process, and that is what counts the most except for maybe Corbin’s pitching, Candelario’s defense, and Smith’s bat. Plenty of players vying for the final bench spot are showing up as Matt Adams and Jake Alu are two of those with good starts to their spring training. Same with those relievers trying for the eighth spot in the bullpen as Jordan Weems and Mason Thompson have both looked good. But nobody is really stepping up big for a spot in the starting rotation past MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, and Cade Cavalli.
Washington Nationals vs. New York Yankees Stadium: George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Florida 1st Pitch: 1:05 pm EDT TV: ESPN Radio: Via MLB app
Line-up subject to change (without notice):
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