Washington Nationals: Bench will play a factor in postseason

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 14: Adam Lind #26 of the Washington Nationals celebrates in the dugout after scoring in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 14: Adam Lind #26 of the Washington Nationals celebrates in the dugout after scoring in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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In October, the Washington Nationals bench is in a position to help them pick up a postseason win or two

When you look at the Washington Nationals roster, they probably have the deepest bench that this organization has had since moving to D.C. Through late offseason signings and July trades, Mike Rizzo has added to the depth of the team and has given Dusty Baker some tough choices to make for the NLDS roster.

The first big acquisition to the bench was Adam Lind. Lind, who signed for $1 million in February, has been the best pinch-hitter in the history of the franchise. He is hitting .356 (16-for-46) with four home runs and 13 RBI’s in those situations this year. But, his best attribute to the team also can occur when he starts a game.

This season. Lind has eight of his 16 home runs in the seventh inning or later. It is the second most homers on the team behind only Ryan Zimmerman (12). If the Nats are down a run late in the game and need a home run, Lind is going to be the guy he goes to, unless a left-hander is on the mound.

The last possible roster battle is in left field between Jayson Werth and Howie Kendrick. In all likelihood, Werth is going to win the spot, but Kendrick is still going to help this team in October. His versatility to play multiple positions in the outfield and infield is a great thing to have. Plus, he is one of the more professional hitters in the league. It’s safe to say Rizzo made a good trade with Philadelphia on that one.

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Late in October games, you are going to need speed to try to steal a run. The Nats have been known to aggressively run the bases and they have the players to pull of that strategy. Wilmer Difo does have ten stolen bases, but keep an eye on what happens with Victor Robles.

Robles is not a guarantee to make the roster in a week, but he has definitely raised eyebrows for his good play in the field and his lightning fast speed. True, he wouldn’t play much in October, but having him as a pinch-runner late in games would be a great thing for Baker to have in his back spot.

While the Washington Nationals did lose a heartbreaking NLDS to the Dodgers, their bench did find a way to step up in the postseason. Jose Lobaton had a three-run home run in Game 2 against Rich Hill and Chris Heisey had a pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning of Game 5. The team was 2-for-8 in pinch-hit situations in that NLDS.

If there’s one thing to be concerned about with the bench, it could be the fact that the team has 45 pinch-hits, which is the fourth lowest in the National League and the second lowest among potential playoff teams (Diamondbacks have 42). Meanwhile, the Cubs, their potential NLDS opponent this season, have 57 pinch-hits (fourth highest in the NL). But, nobody on their bench has more than one pinch-hit home run.

Next: 2017 turning points

There are many positives to look at with the Washington Nationals bench. Rizzo has built depth on this team and now with everybody mostly healthy, they can make a real impact to help this organization get out of the first round and into the NLCS.

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