By Arthur Cribbs/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Photo Credit: Washington Nationals Twitter
As the Washington Nationals opened the regular season on Thursday and Saturday against the New York Yankees, the defending champions released their 30-man roster.
Given the 2020 season adjustments, the Nationals will allow 30 players on the active roster through the first two weeks of the season. The rosters will trim down to 28 players, and after another two weeks, the team will drop to 26 players for the remainder of the season.
Starting pitching will serve as the strength of the Nationals roster, primarily with the three-headed monster of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. The trio combined to win 43 games with a 3.18 ERA as a group.
Anibal Sanchez and Austin Voth round out the rotation, with Erick Fedde as another option to fill in as a starter.
Joe Ross was expected to fill in as a starter before deciding to opt-out of the season.
The late-inning combination of Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle highlights the Nationals bullpen. Hudson reinvented his career with Washington, posting a 1.44 ERA with the team after being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays last July.
Veterans Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes will split duties behind the plate. Both players provided offensive value, hitting double-digit home runs in 2019. Catcher Tres Barrera was initially listed on the 40-man roster but will serve an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Trea Turner and Starlin Castro will provide the offensive sparks atop the Nationals lineup and above-average defense up the middle.
After spending the past three years with the Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames signed with the team in January and will play first base. He will be filling the void left by Matt Adams, who joined the Atlanta Braves, and Ryan Zimmerman, who opted out of the 2020 season over health concerns. With the loss of Anthony Rendon to the Los Angeles Angels in free agency, Carter Kieboom will need to take his game to the next level.
Howie Kendrick will carry the load in the middle of the lineup as the projected designated hitter.
Michael A. Taylor
The absence of Juan Soto is the glaring hole on the Nationals roster. The 21-year-old outfielder is recovering after testing positive for COVID-19 hours before Opening Day. The team is hoping for his return after he completes all the quarantine protocols.