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Nats still considering 3rd lefty in bullpen

Mar 24, 2014, 1:43 PM EDT

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JUPITER, Fla. — Even though they’re already committed to carrying both Ross Detwiler and Jerry Blevins on their Opening Day roster, the Nationals still are thinking about carrying a third left-hander in their bullpen to begin the season.

The decision to move Detwiler out of the rotation and into the bullpen last week seemed to indicate the Nationals had their left-handed contingent all set for Opening Day.

But with three days left in camp, five pitchers remain in the mix for the final spot in the bullpen, and two of them are lefties: Xavier Cedeno and Michael Gonzalez, who join right-handers Ryan Mattheus, Aaron Barrett and Tanner Roark (who is also competing for the No. 5 starter’s job).

Mattheus missed the first month of camp with a chest injury, and though he’s now healthy, he likely doesn’t have enough time left to build up his arm and make the roster. Barrett, meanwhile, has never pitched above Class AA, though he sports a 0.00 ERA this spring and has turned heads throughout the organization.

Cedeno or Gonzalez, though, would offer a different look. And as manager Matt Williams explained, the Nationals’ early-season schedule might prompt the club to keep another lefty on the roster.

“We know who we’re facing the first 15 games of the season,” Williams said. “It’s all within the division, and certainly looking at those teams, the Braves are heavy left-handed, the Mets are heavy left-handed. So I think the decision comes down to more of a situational-type lefty, potentially as a third lefty, as opposed to making it two just because we don’t want to push Det.”

The Nationals can make this decision without fear of losing most of the contenders. Mattheus, Roark, Barrett and Cedeno all have options and can be demoted without being exposed to other clubs. Gonzalez, who signed a minor-league deal after camp opened, may opt out of his contract on Thursday if he’s not added to the big-league roster.

“There’s a lot of factors in there,” Williams said. “But that’s why those guys are still here. We’re contemplating all those potentials. … Those are just all the considerations we go through in our talks every day. We just don’t know. Do we feel comfortable with two (lefties) or do we feel more comfortable with three? And we continue to evaluate that.”

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    If only we could sign a switch pitcher!

    • deftndumb - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      Vettleson

      • deftndumb - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:06 PM

        Faraz, was in hurry earlier and wanted to get my toe in the water before virtual drinks started being bandied about.

        This is tongue-in-cheek of course, but if you want a switch-pitcher, you’ve got one in Drew Vettleson who came from the Rays in the Karns trade. In High School he pitched with either hand. He was drafted for his bat, however.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:13 PM

        Great trivia! LaRoche wants to pitch according to what he told Matty Ice. ;)

      • deftndumb - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        I’d love to see that!

  2. natinalsgo - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Matty doesn’t want to tip his hand on anything and I don’t buy it that they go 3 lefties.

    • Doc - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      Double talk must come with the job!

      Ol’ Matty is getting good at it.

      Let’s hope the hypothetical lefty is Cedeno, not Gonzalez.

      If the guys chosen for the pen don’t perform, looks like the Nats will have lots of minor league options.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        Sammy Solis should be the next lefty if they decide at some point to go with 3. Cedeno and MGonzo were bit impressive.

  3. jd - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    How is Atlanta heavy left handed? I count 6 righties in their starting 8. Upton,Upton,Johnson,Uggla,Simmons and Gattis with only Freeman and Heywood batting from the left side.

    • masterfishkeeper - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      Atlanta is heavy left handed if you have a time machine and go back two years.

    • NatsLady - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:57 PM

      LOL. Doesn’t matter. MW is just talking so words come out of his mouth. Davey used to do that too…

      • natinalsgo - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:16 PM

        NatsLady, exactly. No way I expect 3 leftys to emerge.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      Without McCann and the switchy Chipper they are looking very righty!

    • Section 222 - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:16 PM

      right master. Maybe Matt thinks that McCann is still on the team.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    Did y’all read this?

    • natinalsgo - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      Faraz, you do realize that Marlins/Red Sox story is almost 3 weeks old?

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:19 PM

        Yeah, but I just came across his response.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:24 PM

        Gotcha! That got a lot of press at the time since it was the lowly Marlins making the complaint and there was almost humor in an ironic way that the Marlins regular starting 8 sans Giancarlo Stanton looks like a AAA roster.

    • Section 222 - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      Yes, funny stuff. It’s been mentioned several times in discussions of the rule about how many “regulars” need to be sent to away ST games.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:19 PM

        I am a bit behind on several ST stuff.

  5. ehay2k - Mar 24, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    No worries Faraz, we all have a week left to get in shape for the regular season!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
x-WASHINGTON 87 63 -- 0
ATLANTA 75 76 12.5
MIAMI 73 77 14.0
NEW YORK 73 79 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 82 18.5
Through Tuesday's games
x-Clinched division title

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