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How the Nationals will assemble their playoff roster

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How the Nationals will assemble their playoff roster

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

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Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

When it comes to sports, we sometimes forget that the athletes we look up to are just normal people. Normal people who have a lot to prove to millions of people on a weekly basis. Former Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel has discussed one his human moments in an interview with 590 The Fan in St. Louis.

Ankiel admitted to drinking vodka during his plight as a pitcher. He referenced his first two starts of the 2001 season, in particular against the his opener Arizona Diamondbacks where he allowed his anxiety to giving in to alcohol to soothe him. In the previous postseason, he became the first pitcher since 1980 to throw five wild pitches in a single inning. 

It may have worked for a couple of games but Ankiel eventually realized it was only making matters worse.

Ankiel began playing in the MLB at the age of 19 and has had a fluctuating career through six teams.  All the while, he has keep a “never give up” mentality.

Why the sudden need to vent? The St. Louis baseball pitcher is getting up close and personal with his upcoming book, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed my Life” which is co-written with sports writer, Tim Brown will be released on April 18.  

His two seasons with the Nationals, resulted in 127 hits and 52 RBIs as an outfielder. 

MORE NATS: Can't miss Nationals promotional schedule

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

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