Predicting the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day 25-Man Roster

Predicting the Nationals' Opening Day Roster

Washington Nationals
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This past week, Matt Williams made his first round of roster cuts. As he continues to whittle down his roster, now is the perfect time to predict who will be on the Opening Day roster. On the following slides, you’ll find my prediction for the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day 25-man roster. We’ll start off the bench, move to the bullpen, work our way around the diamond defensively before finishing up with the starting pitching rotation.

25. Zach Walters - Bench

Zach Walters
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25. Zach Walters - Bench

Zach Walters
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Zach Walters has been swinging arguably the best bat in Spring Training, and it will land him on the bench come Opening Day. The Nationals' pinch hitting lacked severely in 2013, so having Walters there this year will be a solid upgrade.

24. Scott Hairston - Bench

Scott Hairston
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24. Scott Hairston - Bench

Scott Hairston
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The Nationals traded with the Chicago Cubs for Scott Hairston last July with hopes of him boosting the pinch hitting. With two doubles, two HRs and seven RBIs, he did just that. Hairston won’t see as much time in the outfield, but he’s a good bat to have on the bench.

23. Jose Lobaton - Backup Catcher, Bench

Jose Lobaton
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23. Jose Lobaton - Backup Catcher, Bench

Jose Lobaton
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Out of the handful of players battling to be the backup catcher, Jose Lobaton has the most promise and major league experience. He’ll be more than capable of starting every so often, and he’ll be a nice offensive weapon on the bench.

22. Nate McLouth - Bench, Fourth Outfielder

Nate McLouth
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22. Nate McLouth - Bench, Fourth Outfielder

Nate McLouth
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The Nationals signed Nate McLouth to be the team’s fourth outfielder. With the injury problems that have plagued the outfield over the past couple of seasons, having McLouth handy is a good idea. Plus, he’ll help remedy the pinch-hitting woes.

21. Danny Espinosa - Bench

Danny Espinosa
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21. Danny Espinosa - Bench

Danny Espinosa
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Danny Espinosa will ultimately lose the closely contested battle for second base, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be on the team. Putting him on the bench is a good move. He’s great defensively and has a lot of pop in the bat. Espinosa will be a great pinch hitter.

20. Luis Ayala - Reliever

Luis Ayala
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20. Luis Ayala - Reliever

Luis Ayala
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Luis Ayala was signed by the Nationals over the offseason. In 31 innings with the Atlanta Braves in 2013, he pitched to a 2.90 ERA with 20 strikeouts. He’s got the experience and the goods. Expect him to be in the bullpen come Opening Day.

19. Mike Gonzalez - Reliever

Mike Gonzalez
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19. Mike Gonzalez - Reliever

Mike Gonzalez
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The Nationals signed Mike Gonzalez again during Spring Training. For those that don’t remember, Gonzalez was an important part of their 2012 bullpen. I think he’ll make the Opening Day bullpen in 2014. Matt Williams wants two leftys in his bullpen, so Gonzalez makes sense.

18. Craig Stammen - Long Reliever

Craig Stammen
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18. Craig Stammen - Long Reliever

Craig Stammen
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Craig Stammen has been the Nationals’ long reliever for several seasons, and don’t expect that to change. He’s a good pitcher and has been very reliable for Washington.

17. Drew Storen - Reliever, Setup, Closer

Drew Storen
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17. Drew Storen - Reliever, Setup, Closer

Drew Storen
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Storen was supposed to be the team’s closer, but his implosion capped their 2012 playoff run. Storen rebounded to pitch well in 2013, but there’s still some improvement left. I think he’ll make a good setup man and reliever, and he could get a save opportunity here and there.

16. Tyler Clippard - Reliever, Setup, Closer

Tyler Clippard
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16. Tyler Clippard - Reliever, Setup, Closer

Tyler Clippard
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Tyler Clippard poses the biggest challenge to Rafael Soriano as the team’s closer. In 2012, Clippard picked up 32 saves before Washington signed Soriano over the offseason. He’ll be the setup man, but don’t be surprised if he gets a few save opportunities.

15. Jerry Blevins - Reliever, Setup

Jerry Blevins
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15. Jerry Blevins - Reliever, Setup

Jerry Blevins
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One of three major offseason acquisitions, Jerry Blevins fills a need as a left-handed reliever. He was acquired to be in the bullpen, so that’s where he’ll be come Opening Day.

14. Rafael Soriano - Closer

Rafael Soriano
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

14. Rafael Soriano - Closer

Rafael Soriano
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Rafael Soriano was a solid closer for the Nationals in 2013. While he flirted with disaster, he did pick up 43 saves. Soriano will get the same role in 2014.

13. Jayson Werth - Right Field

Jayson Werth
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13. Jayson Werth - Right Field

Jayson Werth
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By the time the 2013 season was over, Jayson Werth was batting over .300. Expect him to carry that hot hitting through the spring and into the 2014 season.

12. Denard Span - Centerfield

Denard Span
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12 Denard Span - Centerfield

Denard Span
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Denard Span had a great first year with the Nationals. He has solidified himself as the team’s leadoff man and was very reliable out in center field. Expect him to be another Gold Glove candidate in 2014.

11. Bryce Harper - Left Field

Bryce Harper
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11. Bryce Harper - Left Field

Bryce Harper
Brad Barr-USA Today

Was there any doubt as to who would round out the outfield? Bryce Harper has taken over as the face of the Nationals. He’ll be in left field. Hopefully he doesn’t run into a wall and can stay out in left field all season long.

10. Ian Desmond - Shortstop

Ian Desmond
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10. Ian Desmond - Shortstop

Ian Desmond
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Ian Desmond is fast becoming one of the premiere shortstops in MLB. Without question, that’s where he’ll be come Opening Day for the Nationals.

9. Ryan Zimmerman - Third Base

Ryan Zimmerman
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9. Ryan Zimmerman - Third Base

Ryan Zimmerman
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Who else would man third base? Ryan Zimmerman may be in his final few years, but he’s still the man in the hot corner for the Nationals.

8. Anthony Rendon - Second Base

Anthony Rendon
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8. Anthony Rendon - Second Base

Anthony Rendon
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Anthony Rendon’s solid 2013 season will win him his position back over Danny Espinosa. Both have performed will in Spring Training, but I think Washington will the more consistent bat in Rendon.

7. Adam LaRoche - First Base

Adam LaRoche
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7. Adam LaRoche - First Base

Adam LaRoche
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As history shows us, Adam LaRoche plays well in his contract year. He’ll get the start at first base in 2014. There are minor leaguers behind him looking to move up, so he’ll need to perform in 2014.

6. Wilson Ramos - Catcher

Wilson Ramos
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6. Wilson Ramos - Catcher

Wilson Ramos
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Wilson Ramos always has been the go-to guy behind the plate. Last season, injuries forced him to miss time. This year, a healthy season will prove him to be a catcher to fear both defensively and offensively.

5. Ross Detwiler - Starting Pitcher

Ross Detwiler
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5. Ross Detwiler - Starting Pitcher

Ross Detwiler
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Last season, Ross Detwiler was severely hindered on the mound by a bad back. This spring, he’s looked really solid on the mound and his curveball has been crippling. Expect him to win the battle with Tanner Roark and Ross Ohlendorf for the fifth pitching spot.

4. Doug Fister - Starting Pitcher

Doug Fister
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4. Doug Fister - Starting Pitcher

Doug Fister
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One of the newest additions to the Nationals, Doug Fister was acquired via a trade with Detroit in December. In many other rotations, he would be a featured man. In Washington, it’s frightening that he’s in the fourth spot.

3. Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
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3. Jordan Zimmermann - Starting Pitcher

Jordan Zimmermann
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Jordan Zimmermann is coming off of the best year of his career. Expect no less this year. He’s one of several pitchers on the Nationals’ staff who could compete for the Cy Young.

2. Gio Gonzalez - Starting Pitcher

Gio Gonzalez
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2. Gio Gonzalez - Starting Pitcher

Gio Gonzalez
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No surprise here. Gio Gonzalez has always been a solid pitcher and his career has really taken off since joining Washington. Expect another good year from him. If he can get back to the pitcher he was in 2012, expect a Cy Young-caliber season.

1. Stephen Strasburg - Starting Pitcher

Stephen Strasburg
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1. Stephen Strasburg - Starting Pitcher

Stephen Strasburg
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Stephen Strasburg has pitched five strong innings in Spring Training. Expect him to be the Opening Day starter and to compete for the Cy Young in 2014.

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