Look around the field and the Nationals have questions about the health of many players, to varying degrees.
At first base, Ryan Zimmerman is nursing a sore calf muscle. At second, Daniel Murphy has a left buttock strain. At catcher, Jose Lobaton has a right ankle that just over a week ago he described as good to play, but not great.
In the outfield, Jayson Werth missed the team's final two games with back tightness. Bryce Harper jammed his thumb late in the season and may or may not still be dealing with a neck and right shoulder issue.
Those injuries are all relatively minor. With the exception of Murphy, each ailment shouldn't affect their status for Game 1 on Friday. But add them all up, and combine them with Trea Turner's inexperience in center field, one could argue there are questions about the Nationals' defense as they get set for a playoff run.
"If they put their hands on it, most of the time you're out. It's just a matter of how much range they may have," manager Dusty Baker said.
"I've got some capable guys that I can put in there, but then that makes my bench weaker as I interject guys into the game depending on when I interject them into the game. Do you have some younger, lesser players then facing some of their horses at the end? I'm going to be very cognizant of who they have left, who they may bring in and the matchups that might be coming. That's part of the job."
With ace pitchers like Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw on the mound, runs may come at a premium. They always do in the postseason. Small mistakes can loom large and alter games and series, especially when it's a best of five.
Murphy himself learned that the hard way in the World Series last fall. His Mets committed five errors - two by Murphy himself - and it cost them against the Kansas City Royals.
The Nationals, to be fair, have been among the best defensive teams in baseball this season. They had the second-fewest errors, the second-best fielding percentage and the fifth-best defensive efficiency rating. Defense is one of their strengths, but injuries can change everything and the Nats have a long list of them at the moment.
GM Mike Rizzo, for one, is not at all concerned.
"I love our defense. We're a very efficient defensive team," he said. "When we get to it, we catch it and we usually throw you out. So we feel good about that. Part of the defense is that guy in the middle of the field and we feel really good about that part of it."
The Nationals do have that working for them. If Scherzer has his strikeout stuff, defense may not matter as much as it usually does, at least in Game 1.
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