The Washington Nationals lost yesterday afternoon 10-2, but that is not what matters. It's the spring, very early in the spring, and winning and losing takes a back seat to tweaking mechanics, shedding rust, and finding roles.
The good news, however, is that Davey Johnson began to vet the supposed roles for the hurlers in the team's pitching staff. As you saw in the video above, Stephen Strasburg got the start, and for the most part was impressive. In total he pitched 2 2/3 innings, gave up three hits, two earned runs, and struck out three while walking none. He was then followed by the team's long relief man, Tom Gorzelanny, who unfortunately did not have the same success (1 IP, 3H, 7 ER, 4 BB),
The seventh, eighth, and ninth innings featured what we hope to be the Nats turn-the-lights-out bullpen. Brad Lidge took the hill in the seventh and tossed a scoreless frame. The eighth saw Tyler Clippard allow one run, one hit, and one strikeout. The ninth saw closer Drew Storen come in strike out two batters in a one-two-three inning.
Things are shaping up nicely in Viera. As fans, we should focus less on absolute production at this point and time, and more on how the pieces fit together. A few things I will be watching over the next few days will be:
1. How does Anthony Rendon do bouncing around the infield? Does it affect his plate production.
2. Is there any growth in the arsenal of our starting pitchers. Have they evolved?
3. How do Brad Lidge, Drew Storen, and Tyler Clippard fit as a one-two-three punch at the end of the bullpen? This could very well be one of the Nats most powerful tools.
4. Does Bryce Harper go the other way well against MLB pitching?
5. How many different people will get to play second base?