Early Friday afternoon Nationals manager Davey Johnson revealed to reporters (thanks to Tweets by Mark Zuckerman) some of the team’s plans for when rosters expand today. Left-hander John Lannan, catcher Sandy Leon, and outfielder Eury Perez will all join the team in Washington. As will infielder Mark DeRosa, who will be activated off the disabled list.
Lannan is the no-brainer of the group when you consider this has been the plan ever since he was optioned to Triple-A at the end of Spring Training. He’s also the best candidate to step into the starting rotation once we reach the inevitable shutdown of Stephen Strasburg. Through 24 starts he’s just 9-11 with a 4.30 ERA on the year. Over his last few starts, however, he’s been pitching lights out. He’s thrown back-to-back complete game shutouts and has only allowed 7 earned runs over his last 38.2 innings pitched.
Washington’s situation behind the plate has arguably stabilized since the team acquired Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland A’s. He’s proved to be a solid addition to the team. His presence has also permitted Jesus Flores to remain in a backup role, perhaps where he’s best suited. But given the team’s need for depth at the position this season, it makes sense to recall another catcher at this point in the year. Plus, there are two others already on the 40-man roster so it makes sense to call them up. Leon was the first to get called of the group, though Jhonatan Solano won’t be far behind. He’ll spend some time with the team’s instructional league to get a few more at bats before joining the team as well.
Leon hit .322/.396/.460 over 231 plate appearances in the minors, with the bulk of that time coming at Double-A. Splitting most of his time between Double-A and Triple-A, Solano hit a combined .241/.275/.313 in just 91 plate appearances on the year. Both have battled injuries but each has had brief stints in Washington this year. Leon’s hit .250/.344/.321 in 32 plate appearances. Solano’s batted .314/.351/.571 over 37 plate appearances.
The surprise of the group is Perez, though the fact that he is already on the 40-man roster does make the move easier. The speedster has batted .314/.344/.361 on the year, spending most of the year at Double-A before earning a promotion to Triple-A. He’s also added 51 stolen bases to those numbers while seeing time across the outfield. Perez may have been overstepped by Brian Goodwin as the organization’s top outfield prospect, but he’s much closer to the Majors and this will be the organization’s first opportunity to take a look at him for an extended period of time. He’ll likely only see time in pinch running or defensive substitution situations, as this September will be vastly different than those of years past for the Nationals.
DeRosa has been out since early August thanks largely to a sore groin. He’s had a rocky season and hasn’t been able to remain healthy for much of it. He’s appeared in just 34 games, earning 81 plate appearances in which he’s hit just .152/.288/.212.
Zuckerman also noted that outfielder Corey Brown and right-hander Christian Garcia will join the team on Monday, after the season concludes for Triple-A Syracuse. Brown batted .188/.188/.438 in 17 plate appearances across two brief stints earlier this season. He had a breakout season in the minors, however, hitting a career high 23 HR with 68 RBI while batting .285/.365/.518 over 467 at bats. He and Perez should offer enough versatility across the outfield to give the team ample depth for September.
Garcia’s promotion we discussed two weeks ago and not much has changed since. He’s posted a 2-1 record with 19 saves and a 0.89 ERA over 50.1 innings of work this season, between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s always shown promise in the minors but has had trouble remaining healthy. This could be a big chance for him to determine his future with the organization.