* Editor’s Note: Stats As Of Thursday, April 2nd
With two games remaining on the Washington Nationals spring schedule against the New York Yankees, manager Matt Williams and general manager Mike Rizzo have two decisions to make when it comes down to finalizing the 25-man roster that will be active on April 6 against the New York Mets. It comes down to one more bench spot and one more bullpen spot, with the four candidates being Rich Hill, Xavier Cedeno, Clint Robinson, and Mike Carp.
LetÃ¢Â€Â™s start by taking a look at the battle for the final left-handed bullpen spot between Hill and Cedeno. A couple of days ago, Washington made the decision to pay Hill his $100,000 retention bonus if he does not make the roster.
The 35-year old has appeared in eight games this spring and has a 2.45 ERA. Plus, he has not given up an earned run in each of his last six appearances, dating back to March 14 against the Mets. He is coming off finishing last season with the Yankees, where he only threw 5.1 innings in 14 games, yet had a 1.69 ERA.
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As for Cedeno, the lefty who had a 3.86 ERA in nine appearances last year has a 4.50 ERA this spring in 11 games. He has given up a combined five earned runs in his last six.
With Blake Treinen likely to make the roster due to the injury to Casey Janssen, it seems to me that the favorite should be Rich Hill. It gives the Nationals another veteran lefty to go with Matt Thornton after Washington sent Jerry Blevins to the Mets for Matt den Dekker. In a bullpen that will have younger relievers in Treinen and Aaron Barrett, you can’t go wrong with enough veterans in the ‘pen.
As for the last position player spot, it comes down to two first baseman who have experience playing in the outfield. While Clint Robinson has spent the bulk of his career in the minor leagues, he is hitting .327 this spring with two home runs and eight RBI’™s. This includes a grand slam that he hit against the Mets back on March 12.
If you look at Mike Carp‘s numbers, while he does have the major league experience over Robinson, he has struggled with the bat as he is hitting .189 this spring with two RBI’™s. He has gone six straight games without recording a hit, with his last hit coming on March 21 against the Braves.
True, offense is not the only indicator in this decision as Carp does have more experience than Robinson in the outfield. However, that last bench spot, in my opinion, needs to go to someone with power. Washington needs a bat they can go to on the bench while guys like Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth are out, that can hit a home run in a late spot. Robinson has more of an opportunity to do that for the Nats to start the season.