Feb 7, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT
USA Today Sports Images
Drew Storen will have to pitch in a setup role for new closer Rafael Soriano.
As the final countdown to spring training arrives, we're counting down the five biggest storylines facing the Nationals in Viera. We start today with spring storyline No. 5: The new-look bullpen…
The Nationals had one of baseball's best bullpens last season, a deep, talented and balanced group that featured two capable closers, one of the best left-handers in the game, a couple up-and-coming right-handers, a veteran lefty and a reliable long man. And general manager Mike Rizzo had the ability to keep that entire unit intact, if he was willing to spend the money necessary to retain everyone.
Rizzo, though, didn't feel like his three lefties (Sean Burnett, Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny) were worth the contracts each stood to receive either via free agency or arbitration. So all three were left to sign elsewhere, creating an obvious dearth of southpaws in this team's bullpen.
Rizzo did make overtures to a few other available left-handers on the market, most notably J.P. Howell, but in the end decided none were worth it and so instead spent his money on the one thing theRead more »
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
Follow us on Twitter
- Nationals' backups fall to Braves in series finale in Atlanta
- Nats will keep playing, try to secure No. 1 seed
- Nationals going with all backups tonight vs. Braves
- Nationals' division titles are no small achievement
- Nationals Stock Watch: NL East champs have plenty of risers
- Matt Williams quotes Robert Frost in postgame speech (VIDEO)
- VIDEO: Nats celebrate NL East title with loud music, lots of beer
- Nationals players react to winning NL East on Twitter
- PHOTOS: Harper wears custom firefighters helmet to celebrate
- Nationals clinch NL East with victory in Atlanta