Six More Cut, Two More to Go

Cole, Gott Optioned to AAA; Glover the last watchlist player standing

Six more players were sent packing as the Nationals play their final Spring Training game in Florida this afternoon.

A.J. Cole and Trevor Gott were optioned to Syracuse, while Neal Cotts, Jhonatan Solano, and Jacob Turner were re-assigned to minor-league camp. Journeyman Vance Worley was released outright.

As the headline suggests, there are two more cuts to be made – and it appears to be a battle between Michael Taylor and Wilmer Difo for the last bench spot, and whether or not the Nats opt to carry a long man. In the case of the latter, Jeremy Guthrie would be that guy as the Nats waived Clint Robinson on Tuesday because he is out of options, which would open up the necessary spot on the 40-man roster.

The choice between Difo and Taylor is not about options; both have one left. It’s about whether you value versatility (Difo) versus tools (Taylor).

This is a minors site, so I have to leave that there and shift to this unpleasant reality regarding the guy in the subhead, Koda Glover: He has multiple options left and he’s competing against guys with one (Sammy Solis) or none (Enny Romero). As well as he’s pitched this spring, Glover could still be the odd man out.

I’d love to be wrong about this, but I’ve never been one to go after Moby Dick and bring the tartar sauce. Nats GM Mike Rizzo has done nothing to change that, never mind where I’m from (New England), or what my parents lived through (the Great Depression). I root for “our guys,” but I know deep down they’re still going to be treated like chattel cattle more often than not.

I suspect we’ll see the first of these two final cuts if/when Robinson clears waivers, which should be tomorrow. The other cut may not be until Sunday, unless Rizzo pulls off another late-March trade.

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Nats Option Four More to AAA

Well, ask and ye shall receive, no?

After yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Astros at the BotPB, the Nationals optioned Brian Goodwin, Matt Grace, Rafael Martin, and Pedro Severino were optioned to AAA while AAAA Emmanuel Burriss was reassigned to minor-league camp.

None of the moves were unexpected (just long delayed). There are now 37 players left in camp, including eight non-roster invitees and watchlist players Koda Glover and A.J. Cole.

Given his Glover’s role in the current closer soap opera, his continued presence in camp is expected, but Cole’s is not. This feeds into the other contrived drama* regarding manager Dusty Baker’s preference for a long man, and of course, the omnipresent third option of a trade, which is also expected to solve the “battle” between Adam Lind and out-of-options Clint Robinson. *Excluding this softer-than-a-baby’s-bottom story.

UPDATE: UT Brandon Snyder was also reassigned to minor-league camp on Sunday morning.

The Nationals have five games left in Florida before they head north to play a pair of cash grabs exhibitions against the Red Sox on Friday and Saturday.

Shifting Gears

Shifting-GearsLike two years ago, I’m not making this call based on a set of cuts or circumstances. It’s just time for me to stop covering the spring training games and wait for the minor-league seasons to begin.

It’s pretty clear from the playing time that Brian Goodwin, Rafael Bautista, and Pedro Severino will be the first position player to be recalled from Syracuse if/when needed.

Yesterday’s loss not withstanding, I’m fairly confident Koda Glover will make the club, though I doubt he’ll be pitching in the 9th inning at the outset.

Conversely, A.J. Cole appears to have pitched himself back to upstate New York, even if the Nats brass finally decides he may be better suited to relief (as I wrote in the player reports before spring training started).

Simply put, there’s just not enough of an excuse to continue writing every day – I’ve gotten back into the rhythm, shaken off the rust, etc. It’s an indulgence anyway for a minor-league site to write this much about the big club anyway.

I’ll be ready to go in a couple weeks, and look forward to Season 8 of covering, lamenting, celebrating, and kvetching about the Washington Nationals’ minor leagues.

Nats Don’t Lose, 5-5

The Nats rallied for four in the 7th to tie, and loaded the bases in the 8th, but couldn’t push across the go-ahead run as they tied the Marlins, 5-5 on Friday afternoon – the fourth tie in 20 spring training games.

It also took Erick Fedde off the hook for the “L,” as Miami shredded him (would that be con-Fedde?) for five runs over an inning and 2/3rds on four hit and three walks. The big blow was an Earl Weaver special off the bat of Marcell Ozuna after a hit by pitch with two out in the 2nd.

Brian Goodwin got the start in RF and went 0-for-2 with a walk. Rafael Bautista, who was optioned along with Austin Adams prior to the game, took over for Goodwin and was 0-for-1 with a walk and a run scored.

Pedro Severino was the only other watchlist player to appear in the gam. He struck out and walked in his two plate appearances after he replaced starting catcher Spencer Kieboom.

Washington returns to West Palm Beach to play Houston as the home team at the BotPB this afternoon. Joe Ross is expected to get the start for the Nats. The game will be broadcast locally on 1580AM.

Nats Pull Back Even with 3-1 Win over Mets

Harper Homers Again

Let the comeback-player stories begin as Bryce Harper launched a solo shot in the 1st against Zack Wheeler to get the Nats on the board early in a 3-1 Washington win over New York.

The 24-y.o. former N.L. MVP is 9-for-29 with six HR and nine RBI thus far in 2017 spring training.

Meanwhile, the mercurial Gio Gonzalez walked just one batter over five no-hit innings to lower his spring ERA to 0.75 and get credit for the win. In four outings, the FL native has let in one run on five hits and three walks over 12 innings.

Three watchlist position players got into the game, and they’re the usual suspects:
Pedro Severino got the start behind the plate and went 1-for-3.
Brian Goodwin subbed for Harper in RF on defense in the 7th but did not come to bat.
Rafael Bautista replaced Adam Eaton in CF and doubled in his only AB. He also committed an error, which led to the Mets’ run.

Koda Glover pitched the 9th and struck out two of three batters faced to earn the save.

The win evens up Washington’s ST record at 8-8 with three ties. Erick Fedde is expected to make the start on Friday as the Nats visit the Marlins. The game can be heard on MLB Audio (Miami feed).

Astros Blast Nats, 8-2

A five-run 3rd, lowlighted by a three-run HR, did in A.J. Cole and the Nats for an 8-2 loss.

Cole was also stung for a solo home run in the 1st and was charged with seven runs total during his three and 2/3rds innings pitched. In four outings, he’s given up 15 runs on 16 hits (four HRs) and six walks with four strikeouts over 12⅓ innings.

Three watchlist players came off the bench:
Rafael Bautista struck out while pinch-hitting then replacing Adam Eaton in CF.
Brian Goodwin followed Bryce Harper in RF and led off the 8th with a flyout.
Pedro Severino subbed for C Matt Wietersand whiffed to start the 9th.

The loss drops Washington to 7-8-3 for the spring.

The Nats switch dugouts at the BotPB to host the Mets on Thursday. Gio Gonzalez is scheduled to pitch for the Nats. The game will not be broadcast on TV, radio, or Obama’s wiretap of the Trump Towers.

Nats Tie Again, 3-3

Washington’s subs rallied for three in the 8th to salvage a 3-3 tie in 10 innings against Detroit.

The rally took Stephen Strasburg off the hook, as he had given up two runs on three hits over four innings. He walked none and struck out five.

Koda Glover was the sole watchlist reliever to appear. He worked around a walk in the 9th and struck out one.

No watchlist players were in the starting lineup, and just three appeared off the bench:
Brian Goodwin spelled Jayson Werth in LF and went 1-for-3 with and RBI double and a run scored.
Rafael Bautista pinch-ran for Spencer Kieboom in the 9th but did not score.
Pedro Severino replaced Kieboom as the third catcher and caught the 10th.

Prior to the game, the Nationals announced that Jimmy Cordero (Syracuse), Austin Voth (Syracuse), Matt Skole (Syracuse) and Raudy Read (Harrisburg) had been optioned while Andrew Stevenson and Drew Ward were among six players who had been reassigned to minor-league camp. On Friday, six pitchers were sent to the backfields – all FAs signed over the winter except for Wander Suero.

Tomorrow is the second and final scheduled off day of the 2017 Spring Training.

Ward, Stevenson Combine for Walkoff Win, 5-4

Drew Ward tied the game with a solo shot in the 8th while Andrew Stevenson plated the gamewinner with an opposite-field single in the 9th to give the Nats a 5-4 win over the Astros on Sunday afternoon.

Joe Ross got the start and looked sharp in four scoreless innings, with two hits and a walk allowed and four strikeouts. Bryce Harper homered for the fifth time while Adam Esaton went deep for the first time to lead the ten-hit attack.

Stevenson, who subbed for Eaton in CF in the 7th, finished the day at 1-for-2 as did Ward, who pinch-hit for Anthony Rendon and finished the game at 3B.

Here’s how the rest of the watchlisters fared:
Rafael Bautista took over for Harper in the 7th but popped out to 1B in his only at-bat.
Matt Skole replaced Ryan Zimmerman at 1B and flew out to CF in the 8th for an 0-for-1 game.
Pedro Severino , singled in his second trip to the plate as the second catcher behind the plate (after Matt Wieters, who was 0-for-2 in his Nats debut) and was pinch-run for by Wilmer Difo, who scored on Stevenson’s single.

With the win, Washington returns to .500 at 7-7-2. The Nats remain at “home” with a matchup against the Tigers. Stephen Strasburg is expected to start, with the Nats radio team calling the game on MLB audio and 1580AM.

Nats Stop Winless Streak, Blank Mets, 6-0

A three-run 6th broke open a 1-0 game as the Nats won for the first time in more than a week with a 6-0 shutout of the Mets on Saturday afernoon.

Erick Fedde got the start and did nothing to contradict his status as Washington’s top pitching prospect with three scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and one walk and struck out one.

Austin Voth also impressed in his second outing, fanning three of seven batters faced though he did give up two hits.

Brian Goodwin and Matt Skole were both in the starting lineup at RF and 3B respectively. The OF drove in one with a sac fly and went 1-for-2 overall. The IF was 0-for-2 with a whiff.

Here’s a rundown on the rest of the watchlist players to appear:
Rafael Bautista pinch-hit and took over for CF Michael Taylor in the 7th and connected for an RBI single. He rep;He grounded into in double play to end the 9th to finish 1-for-2 with a run scored.
Andrew Stevenson replaced Chris Heisey in LF after lining out as a pinch-hitter for the second out of the 7th.
Blake Perkins pinch-hit and took over for Goodwin in RF. He reached base on an error in the 7th.
Raudy Read was the second DH but was 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
Drew Ward subbed for Skole at 3B and went 0-for-1 with a walk.

The Nats return to BotPB for a rematch against the Astros. Joe Ross is expected to start and the game, which can be seen on MASN and heard on 106.7FM

Cards Deck the Nats, 7-1

St. Louis’s five-run 4th broke open a 1-0 game as they beat the Nats yet again, 7-1. The one Nats run came on a Bryce Harper home run, his fourth of the spring.

Gio Gonzalez was charged with the loss, though he wasn’t ineffective with one run let in on four hits and a walk over three innings.

Trevor Gott didn’t have what it took, as he retired just one of five batters faced and gave up three hits and a walk to the other four. Matt Grace got out of the inning but allowed both inherited runners to score.

Jimmy Cordero and Koda Glover were among the parade of five relievers that followed. Cordero was touched for a run on a triple and two walks in his inning of work while Glover got a popup, groundout, and a flyout in the 9th.

Here’s a rundown of how the watchlist players did:
Pedro Severino started at catcher and went 0-for-1.
Andrew Stevenson subbed for Jayson Weth in LF and was 0-for-2.
Rafael Bautista followed Harper in RF and had the second Washington hit in his first AB; he struck out to end the game in the 9th.
Raudy Read was the third backstop (Spencer Kieboom was the second) and struck out in his lone at-bat.

Erick Fedde is scheduled to take the hill this afternoon against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. The game can heard locally on 106.7FM.