How the Nationals will assemble their playoff roster

How the Nationals will assemble their playoff roster
October 5, 2012, 1:24 pm
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The Nationals, officially, have known they'll be competing in the postseason for two full weeks now, so they've had plenty of time to consider their 25-man October roster.

Major League Baseball, however, doesn't require teams to actually submit their roster until the morning of Game 1 of a particular series, so Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson don't need to finalize anything until Sunday morning.

Which gives those two men ample opportunity to run through every possible scenario while also waiting to find out the identity of their opponent for the National League Division Series.

The answer to that question -- Braves or Cardinals? -- could play a big role in deciding the last couple of spots on the Nationals' roster. Johnson isn't hiding his desire to have more left-handed pitchers for a series against Atlanta than St. Louis, given the composition of each club's lineup.

Would that be enough to convince Rizzo and Johnson to use John Lannan as their No. 4 starter against the Braves while relegating 10-game winner Edwin Jackson to the role of spectator? Based on Rizzo's answer earlier this week to a more generic question about postseason roster construction, it didn't sound that way.

"I don't think going into that first round of playoffs ... we're going to dance with who brung us," the GM said. "We're going to go with the team that we've had this season out there. As we have throughout the season, we feel good about who we've got on our roster, the way it's created."

Jackson made 31 starts, going 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA. He's also the only starter in the organization with postseason experience.

Lannan made only six starts (four of them in September after Stephen Strasburg was shut down), going 4-1 with a 4.13 ERA. He does, however, own a 9-5 record and 3.20 ERA in 16 career starts against the Braves.

There are other down-to-the-wire considerations for Rizzo and Johnson...

-- Should they carry a seven-man or an eight-man bullpen? And if they carry the extra man, who should fill that spot: Christian Garcia? Zach Duke? Lannan?

-- If they chose to stick with a seven-man relief corps, who gets the last spot on the bench: Mark DeRosa? Eury Perez? Corey Brown?

With all that in mind, here's an educated guess for the NLDS roster, regardless of the opponent. (One key point to remember: The roster can be reset before each round of the postseason.) ...

STARTING PITCHERS (4)
1. LHP Gio Gonzalez
2. RHP Jordan Zimmermann
3. LHP Ross Detwiler
4. RHP Edwin Jackson

RELIEF PITCHERS (8)
1. RHP Drew Storen
2. RHP Tyler Clippard
3. LHP Sean Burnett
4. RHP Craig Stammen
5. RHP Ryan Mattheus
6. LHP Michael Gonzalez
7. LHP Tom Gorzelanny
8. RHP Christian Garcia

STARTING LINEUP (8)
1. RF Jayson Werth
2. CF Bryce Harper
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4. 1B Adam LaRoche
5. LF Michael Morse
6. SS Ian Desmond
7. 2B Danny Espinosa
8. C Kurt Suzuki

BENCH (5)
1. C Jesus Flores
2. IF Steve Lombardozzi
3. IF Chad Tracy
4. OF Roger Bernadina
5. OF Tyler Moore