It wasn’t pretty but the Washington Nationals pulled out their second win of the Spring season coming back from a 4-1 deficit to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-5. Carlos Rivero had the big hit, a bases clearing double with the bases loaded that pulled the Nationals ahead for good.
Rivero is out of options and every hit he has puts him in a better position to try and make this team. However, it is a long shot. There are very few opportunities and it looks like Rivero is just ending up auditioning for another team.
Jordan Zimmermann had a regular spring start but after the game said that he has a lot more confidence in his change up – a pitch he hasn’t thrown often at the Major League level (just two per cent last year according to the Bill James Handbook.) He pitched three innings and allowed two runs.
Bryce Harper hit a home run as he continues his hot hitting. I don’t think we really realize how good he is to be able to start off Spring Training as well as he is. The results don’t mean anything but hitting the ball is still hitting the ball.
Tyler Clippard made his season debut and he had a good outing pitching a scoreless inning. Ross Ohlendorf came in for Zimmermann and also allowed two runs over two innings. After Ohlendorf, Fernando Abad, Clippard and Cole Kimball pitched scoreless innings and Jeremy Accardo allowed one run in the ninth but held on to get the save. It shows that the Nationals bullpen depth is one of the underrated aspects to this team. The team can probably put up 12 relievers that would be reliable relievers on any of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball. As much as I have lamented the depth in starters, the relievers can make it so the starter’s responsibility is to get to the sixth – or even fifth – inning in a game. That’s a good way to make sure you win games and a great way to manage a young rotation from burning out.
The Nationals starters struggled against Julio Teheran who had five strikeouts in three innings allowing only Harper’s home run. It’s still early in spring and it’s not like the Nationals were trotting out their regular lineup as it is. The fact that they were able to come back is a good sign for the depth in the organization with players who may not even sniff the Major Leagues this season.