Two areas of concern following Nationals' hot start

Chris Lingebach
April 02, 2018 - 5:42 pm

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals got off to the finest start possible, sweeping the Reds in three games on the road, but a few roster concerns were on display, says Chelsea Janes.

For starters, the Nationals' bullpen - a perceived strength after the club renewed the back-end unit of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle for another year - may be only that deep.

"You know, I hate to say it, but the bullpen scares me a lot," Janes told The Sports Junkies on Monday. "To have to go to Madson -- really, he didn't pitch Saturday, but he warmed. Kintzler warmed two out of three days and probably would have warmed yesterday if they hadn't said we gotta stay away from him. And Sammy Solis has very clearly shown he can't go back to back, and he'd be sort of the fourth weapon there. So, they're thin."

"I think they're thin until guys like Matt Grace and Trevor Gott show that they can be consistent, which they very well might," she said. "I mean, it's obviously infinitely better than last year at this time, but it's not October ready. And, fortunately, they have six months to get it there, so it's not a huge concern. It's better than last year, but it doesn't feel as solid as you'd like it, and they've given up a lot of runs over the last two days to a team that isn't going to score a lot of runs, I don't think."

While Adam Eaton put on a mighty-mouse performance out of the gate - going 8-for-13 with two doubles, two homers and five RBI, for a .615 average -- he played so well, Janes fears manager Dave Martinez won't be able to take him out of the lineup, allowing for proper rest in his first season back from a torn ACL.

"To be honest, that worries me a lot," said Janes. "I think the fact that he's playing so well is gonna make it hard to sit him, and I think he needs to sit. I'll be interested to see if he's in there today, but he's said he's always jogged a little weird and kind of moved around slowly, but he's moving around real slow between action. And he says that's normal, and he laughed it off, but why push?"

"I don't think it'll be the worst thing in the world if they get him out of there and maybe he's not hitting .800 in a week," she said. "It scares me as much as it impresses me, because I'm paranoid and whatever. But it's great, obviously, and it's incredible, but you gotta hope Dave Martinez knows when to push the brakes on that one."

"But it's not that he's walking slow," said Jason Bishop. "It's that you can tell that he's favoring it a little bit. And I guess that's natural."

"Yeah. He's still limping. He's still limping," said Janes. "And that's scary to me, because that's just never what you want to see, but he feels fine and he's been through enough, too, that he doesn't want to get hurt again. So I think that everyone probably knows what they're doing, but I'm paranoid and it's obvious to me that he's not 100, 100 percent. But whatever he's doing at 80 percent or whatever works, so I can see why they want to stick with him."

Martinez has elected to rest Eaton for a game, going with Howie Kendrick in left field in Monday's game against the Braves.

Also Monday, Matt Wieters was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a mild left oblique strain. The Nats have recalled catcher Pedro Severino from Triple-A Syracuse.

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