Spring Training Game #12 with an evolving lineup

The Washington Nationals are continuing to get promising signs from their players even though the small sample size results are not necessarily there. The team got a very good pitching performance from Jake Irvin over 4.0 efficient innings with good movement and induced swing/miss from batters. The team needed to start seeing progress from Irvin who struggled in his first two appearances. That gives the team six good starts in the past week from Irvin, tonight’s starter Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore, Patrick Corbin, Zach Davies, and Trevor Williams.

With Corbin and Irvin pitching their third time this Spring Training, Gray, Gore, and Davies will pitch their third time, and Williams his second time over the next few games. Tomorrow is a road/home split-squad doubleheader day/evening of games. A good opportunity for more playing time than the substitutes have been getting. Manager Dave Martinez has been giving his starters three at-bats, and the bench players are generally just getting one at-bat.

One thing for sure, the baserunning and defense has to get better as a team. You steal off of pitchers or else you don’t attempt to steal. Poor lead and/or poor jump on the pitcher is two of the recurring problems on this team. Ryan Zimmerman wasn’t the fastest runner, but he knew how to get the proper lead and time the right jump. Carter Kieboom had another defensive hiccup on not securing the baseball on a tag play. Defense matters and a charitable official scorer (not on Kieboom’s play) shouldn’t excuse bad plays. Victor Robles, Kieboom, Luis Garcia Jr., Joey Meneses, and Keibert Ruiz have all been poor on defense with only Meneses and Ruiz showing some improvement in the first 10-games of camp. We saw the value of great defense by Jacob Young last night making a tough play in the gap — look easy as he caught the ball and turned it into a double play.

Speaking of Young, he is starting tonight in center field over Robles. While Eddie Rosario isn’t ready yet, you have to wonder if tonight’s lineup is your Opening Day look against a right-handed pitch with Rosario in left field, Joey Gallo at first base, Jesse Winker at DH, and Meneses on the bench.


Obviously we cannot read too much into this lineup or what we have seen in Spring Training so far. But how’s about James Wood starting against a legit lefty last night and taking a ball nearly out of the park and then later in a 2-strike count went down to get an outside pitch and smoked it on the ground the opposite way. While he didn’t get hits, the process was encouraging. No strikeouts and three balls put into play. Brady House with another oppo line drive hit, and the youngsters keep showing well.

The chatter seems to be correct that unless there is a trade of Lane Thomas or Robles before Opening Day that the Rosario signing seems like a clear indication that Wood and Dylan Crews will not make the Opening Day lineup. Of course both could just go red hot and force general manager Mike Rizzo into a move — but for now, it looks like the only competition with Stone Garrett most likely starting the season on the 10-day IL is for center field between Young and Robles.

“That’s really like a competition there. Jacob did well for us last year, and Vic maybe has a little bit of the upper hand, but right now they’re both in the mix.”

— manager Dave Martinez said this week on 106.7 radio

This Friday night start at 6:05 pm ET at the CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches will rely on the visiting team to provide radio coverage and an absence of any TV.

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