Analysis: Nationals rout Yankees 9-2 for first win of MLB season

By Arthur Cribbs/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Photo Credit: Washington Nationals Twitter

After falling to the New York Yankees, 4-1, in their rain-shortened season opener on Thursday, the Washington Nationals quickly bounced back. They routed the visitors 9-2 to earn their first win on Saturday. 

On the Mound

Originally slated to start, pitcher Stephen Strasburg was scratched from the game because of a nerve issue in his right hand. Erick Fedde took the mound for the 2019 World Series MVP and provided the Nationals four strong innings of work. 

Fedde only allowed two runs (one earned) and four hits. Fedde’s lone earned run came courtesy of a solo home run by Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth inning.

Coming in relief was the quartet of Tanner Rainey, Ryne Harper, James Bourque and Kyle Finnegan. The Nationals bullpen surrendered just three hits and struck out four in five scoreless innings. 

Rainey earned the victory on his record, throwing just nine pitches in his one inning of work.

At the Plate

Batting at eighth in the order, Victor Robles served as the energy source for the Nationals offense. 

Robles opened the scoring in the second inning with a bases-loaded, two-run double. With the Nationals leading 3-2 in the fourth inning, Robles fired off a two-run home run. He finished the game driving in four runs on three hits and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Asdrubal Cabrera also came a triple short of the cycle, adding three hits of his own, including a seventh-inning home run. 

Collectively, the Nationals scored nine runs on 13 hits. Except for leadoff batter Trea Turner, each player in the lineup for Washington recorded a hit.

Defense

Fielding proved to be a challenge for the Nationals, who committed five errors in Saturday’s game against New York. Only one of the five defensive blunders, a throwing error by Turner in the third inning, cost the Nationals a run. 

Despite ranking 10th in defense last year and committing just 87 errors throughout 162 games, defensive lapses are expected for all 30 teams this season, given the coronavirus break and short summer camp.

Up Next

Despite an eight-strikeout performance in 6 1/3-innings by Patrick Corbin, the Yankees won the series finale 3-2 on Sunday. 

Up next for the Nationals is two home games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Right-hander Aníbal Sánchez is scheduled to make his season debut on Monday’s game while Austin Voth will start on Wednesday. Both games set to begin at 6:05 p.m. 

Nationals announce 30-man roster for 2020 shortened season

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 Pitchers:
Max Scherzer
Stephen Strasburg
Patrick Corbin
Aníbal Sánchez
Austin Voth

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.

Relief Pitchers:
Sean Doolittle
Daniel Hudson
Will Harris
Javy Guerra
Tanner Rainey
Erick Fedde
Kyle Finnegan
James Bourque
Ryne Harper
Sam Freeman

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.

Catchers:
Kurt Suzuki
Yan Gomes
Raudy Read

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. 

Infielders:
Eric Thames
Starlin Castro
Trea Turner
Asdrúbal Cabrera
Carter Kieboom
Howie Kendrick
Wilmer Difo

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.

Outfielders
Victor Robles
Adam Eaton
Michael A. Taylor
Emilio Bonifacio
Andrew Stevenson

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.