The Nationals have released their roster for the club’s first-ever National League Championship Series. It contains a few wrinkles …
In particular, the team made some notable changes in the bullpen. Key late-inning righty Daniel Hudson will begin the series on paternity leave, replaced temporarily by Wander Suero. Once Hudson is ready to return to duty — he can take between one and three days — Suero will depart.
The Nats have made one series-long bullpen swap. Southpaw Roenis Elias, another important deadline pickup, is healthy enough to take part. He’ll be joined by Javy Guerra in a new middle-relief mix, with Hunter Strickland bumped out of the picture.
Here’s the full 25-man unit:
- Javy Guerra
- Tanner Rainey
- Fernando Rodney
- Anibal Sanchez (probable game 1 starter)
- Max Scherzer (probable game 2 starter)
- Stephen Strasburg
- Wander Suero
- Austin Voth
With just eleven pitchers, the Nats are again going to be banking on heavy contributions from their starters. Voth will help provide length if there’s a need for a volume of relief innings. Strickland’s two poor innings in the NLDS sealed his fate. It’s still a bit surprising to see the Nats unwilling to rely upon Suero for more than a placeholding spot; he has been effective against hitters of both hands and carried strong peripherals, while Guerra was not terribly effective this year. Elias’s ability to contribute may be a key aspect of the Nationals’ ability to hang with the Cardinals late in tight games.
The approach does leave the club an exceptionally deep bench to work with, increasing the match-up possibilities for late innings. There’ll be bench bats, pinch-running possibilities, and defensive replacements to call upon as needed.
Notably, the Nats feel good enough about the health of Suzuki to carry him and withhold a third catcher. Raudy Read would likely have been the alternative. Suzuki left Washington’s decisive game 5 after a pitch struck his hand and ricocheted into his face. He isn’t in the lineup tonight, though. Neither is Robles, who is still dealing with a hamstring injury suffered during the series with the Dodgers.