Spring Training Game #25 Trevor Williams’ turn

Yesterday, we wrote that the Washington Nationals game, last night, would be the final audition for Zach Davies, and unfortunately for him, he stumbled off of the stage. Davies hit the skids in the fourth inning — giving up seven runs, and nine in the game to push his Spring Training ERA to 9.00. Davies, fighting for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, seemed to have it sewn up, until he didn’t, after that fourth inning collapse. Trevor Williams pitches today in his final Grapefruit League game for that same fifth starter’s spot, and there’s the issue, there are no more games for Davies to prove himself. Maybe Davies and Williams pitch in the Future’s game on Tuesday — but how do you get past yesterday’s meltdown?

“I was extremely pleased with everything, except for the last inning that I pitched,” Zach Davies said. “It’s unfortunate being in this position. Your last start of Spring [Training], and you don’t really have any more chances to show them what you have. All I can do is be prepared for whatever’s next.”

“It’s really hard to judge a guy like him based on one outing, and I’m not going to do it,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We’ve got some tough decisions to make. He’s a professional.”

Remember, Davies did sign a minor league deal. The only question is any negotiated opt-outs in his deal. This is ultimately a Rizzo decision, and what Davies decides to do about it. The team needs depth beyond Jackson Rutledge, Joan Adon, and DJ Herz. Of course Cade Cavalli is set to return around June in his rehab from UCL/TJ surgery nearly a year ago. Depth is important — quality depth is the key.

On the positive side, Trey Lipscomb keeps pounding the ball, and figuratively speaking, he is kicking down the door. They have to kick the door down — and force us to put them on the team,” as general manager Mike Rizzo said a top prospect would have to do that in order to make the Opening Day roster. Lipscomb also got accolades from team owner Mark Lerner, “I’ve especially enjoyed watching [him].”

What Lips did last night was finish a triple-shy of a cycle, completing the other three-quarters of the feat. Since Lipscomb can play every infield position, and outfield position, he adds value — if you believe he could be successful at the MLB level. Sure, his glove will translate. He was the only Gold Glove third baseman in all of the Minor Leagues last year. But will his current .372 BA or .973 OPS come close to translating?  A lesson from last year that in ST of 2023, Alex Call slashed .321 /.403 /.464 in 56 at-bats with a .867 OPS, and in the regular season was a Mendoza hitter at .200 with a .614 OPS for the Washington Nationals. Call’s stats are just caution to the wind — not an indictment on Lipscomb.

“I think he’s good enough to play here every day. From what we’ve seen in Spring [Training], and from what I know about him and saw in the Fall League, he’s pretty good.”

— Martinez on Lipscomb

As we wrote yesterday about Aaron Judge, his first season in MLB, was a failed month batting .179 and .608 OPS. He K’d in exactly half of those at-bats, 42-of-84. The following year Judge won the Rookie of the Year — and the MVP five years after that. No, we’re not saying Lipscomb is Judge — just that a failed month at a higher level in one year can be a learning experience for the following season, and Keith Law of The Athletic should know that. Point taken though by Law that Martinez’s recollection of Lipscomb’s time in the Arizona Fall League was really off based on the entire AFL statline. But did Davey just see one game in which Lipscomb shined? Context is everything. Overall in the AFL, maybe Lips was hurting, or maybe he was fatigued from a long minor league season or maybe he was just overmatched as Law points to by the stats. But credit given for the the here and now, he is getting big hits off of MLB pitchers like Steven Matz and Cristian Javier and others in this Spring Training.

As an evaluator, Lipscomb has not even been the best prospect in camp. That would be James Wood who has done it all, and we know he has big power. But he doesn’t play a position of need right now, and when Eddie Rosario was signed into a deep outfield that could send Jacob Young to Triple-A, it almost looks certain that the four outfielders are Rosario, Jesse Winker, Victor Robles, and Lane Thomas. Wood is worthy if they went with talent potential as the main criteria.

Lipscomb’s good fortune is Nick Senzel‘s past history, Luis Garcia Jr.‘s inconsistencies on offense and defense, and the fact that Ildemaro Vargas is expendable. Even Rule-5 draftee Nasim Nunez is not guaranteed to make the roster. Lipscomb has minor league options, and that could work against him. But isn’t a rebuild year to find out what and who you have?

“He understands the game. He plays the game the right way. He doesn’t try to do too much. He’s got a good eye at the plate. He’s got a good two-strike approach. You saw what he can do with both sides [of the field]. He plays defense. He can play all over, and really plays all positions well. Runs the bases well. I love having him here.”

— Martinez said on Lipscomb, and if you think this has some context to Garcia, it might.

Contract status often determines a final roster. Opening Day is one week from today in Cincinnati for the Nationals. Decisions are on Rizzo to figure it all out with input from his front office staff and Martinez.

Today’s game is at 1:05 pm at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches and the Nats will face the Twins. The home team is not providing radio and MASN is not providing TV. All we can do is cling to the delayed play-by-play on the MLB app or hope someone is good at typing what’s going on via social media.

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