Washington Nationals: Roster crunch looming for Nats

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MIAMI, FL - MAY 26: Wilmer Difo #1 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a homerun to tie the game during the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 26, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MAY 26: Wilmer Difo #1 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a homerun to tie the game during the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 26, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals victory on Saturday was highlighted by Wilmer Difo and Mark Reynolds homers. Both players performances will cause a roster crunch.

Once again, the Washington Nationals managed to ride a late rally to victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday. The 4-1 victory was led by Mark Reynolds and Wilmer Difo hitting the tying and go-ahead home runs.

These two players roles, as well as a few others will be under scrutiny in the coming weeks, as some of the injured Nats get healthy. There simply aren’t enough roster spots, and too many good players to keep.

Reynolds in particular is in a tricky spot.  Matt Adams has performed so well this season, and Ryan Zimmerman is unlikely to be off the 25 man roster if healthy. So he’ll need to keep up his hot start in order to stay in the lineup with such fierce competition, but all three should be on the roster.

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Difo’s situation is probably slightly clearer. Daniel Murphy started his rehab assignment in Harrisburg on Saturday, and will re-take the starters role upon his return. But Difo should see a couple starts a week and be a valuable bench bat for the Nats.

The last intriguing name to watch in the roster situation is Juan Soto. He’s been doing well since his promotion, however with Brian Goodwin rehabbing and Adam Eaton not far behind, is there room for him? Nats management will probably want him to be starting regularly, and if they can’t do that in D.C. they’ll send him to Syracuse.

Tanner Roark dominates yet again

In this one, Tanner Roark came out and dominated, despite the lack of run support. For the third straight game he went seven strong innings, but couldn’t get the winning decision.

Roark lowered his ERA to a stellar 3.17 and his WHIP is now below one at 0.99, an incredible figure. After a shaky start to the season that had him at a 3.77 ERA, he’s asserted himself as a great fourth option for this team.

One element of his game that has been particularly impressive this year, is his ability to increase his strikeout numbers. So far he’s on course to strike out over 200 batters for the first time in his career. Even if the Ks do normalize to his career levels, he’s doing a damn good job as a fourth starter.

Justin Miller gets win in Nats debut

Making his first appearance in a Nationals uniform, Justin Miller came in with two on and two out in the eighth inning. He then proceeded to strike out Starlin Castro on three pitches, continuing a trend that started with the Syracuse Chiefs.

Before his call up, Miller had struck out 23 hitters in just 13.2 innings without giving up am earned run. He’s earned the chance to be part of the big league bullpen after dealing in Triple-A, and it paid off with his first major league win in two years.

Entering Saturday, he had a ERA in the majors of 4.99, so it makes you wonder if that performance level is sustainable. But if he can maintain it, then he has a chance to stick with the likes of Trevor Gott and Wander Suero struggling of late.

Next: Comparing Reynolds to Dunn

Despite it not being a walk in the park, the Washington Nationals have a chance for a sweep on Sunday. They send Stephen Strasburg to the mound, giving them a great chance of doing so.

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