The Nationals will open the National League Championship Series short-handed.
Top-tier reliever Daniel Hudson was placed on the paternity list Friday because of the birth of his daughter. Wander Suero and Roenis Elías are on the 25-man roster this round in place of Hudson and Hunter Strickland, respectively. Suero will be removed when Hudson is ready to return. It's unclear when that will be.
Elías has not pitched in a major-league game since Sept. 5 when he re-injured his hamstring. Elías originally injured his hamstring when running out of the batter’s box Aug. 2, despite being told not to swing while at the plate. He’s thrown three innings since being acquired in a trade deadline deal with Seattle on July 31.
Despite being left-handed, Elías pitched to reverse splits this season. Right-handers had almost a 500-point lower OPS than left-handers against him. His career splits are more level, but he remains a better pitcher against right-handed hitters over that span, too. Putting him in the game Friday in any situation will be a considerable risk.
Davey Martinez is likely to have to take risks in Game 1 without Hudson. Aníbal Sánchez will start. Martinez mentioned Austin Voth as a relief option multiple times in his pregame press conference. Fernando Rodney and Tanner Rainey will also be turned to in high-leverage situations. This setup is precisely what the Nationals tried to avoid through the National League Division Series and will try to minimize during the NLCS. Though, the length of the series -- seven games instead of five -- reduces their ability to manipulate the bullpen.
“[Sean Doolittle] is throwing the ball really well,” Martinez told reporters pregame Friday. “If need be, he’ll close. These other guys -- Rainey’s throwing the ball well. Rodney’s available. Rodney’s done well for us. You might see Voth have a higher impact in today’s game. We have enough weapons in that bullpen to hold off. It’s one game. We’ll figure it out.”
Here is the Nationals’ 25-man roster to start the NLCS:
Michael A. Taylor
Paternity list (1):
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