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Nationals will benefit from universal DH in 2020 for these two reasons

Nationals will benefit from universal DH in 2020 for these two reasons

The universal DH enters play in 2020. The Nationals will benefit for two reasons.

First, they will be able to use their roster depth which was meant to spread things out across 162 games. They previously loaded their infield with veteran parts in order to increase matchup advantages and lower physical erosion. The roster was built for the long run, with a platoon at first base, spots for Howie Kendrick to pop in and out, and pinch-hitting windows for whomever was not on the field to start the game.

Ryan Zimmerman’s self-removal from the roster adds more chances for everyone else. The addition of the designated hitter in the National League bumps the increase. So, what was a glut for the Nationals turns into everyday opportunities.

RELATED: A YANKEES-NATIONALS OPENING DAY WOULD FINALLY GIVE GERRIT COLE ANOTHER SHOT AT THE NATS

At spring training, Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez looked at the roster as a puzzle. They filled it with multiple veteran players. Maneuvering it would be up to Martinez. Second in strategic importance to handling the bullpen would be his offensive substitutions. Last year, he didn’t pinch-hit often. This year, he was expected to do much more with the push-and-pull of the roster.

“I think the roster that we built, the manager is going to be as important or more important [than in the past],” Rizzo said then. “We have a lot of moving parts.”

Less so now. But, the premise used to build the original roster will benefit them during these alterations.

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There is another aspect of this which should benefit the Nationals.

They are built on starting pitching. A small part of not having a designated hitter was the debate for a manager about when to pull a pitcher in regard to the batting order. Leave him in longer because his spot is coming up? Double-switch afterward?

That’s no longer an issue. The Nationals’ starting pitchers will be able to go until they can’t or Martinez deems it is time for them to come out. Pitch counts as they relate to the batting order are no longer relevant. It also enables Martinez to manage his pinch-hitters accordingly. And, this applies in good or bad situations. When a starter struggled, and there was consideration to take him out early because runners were on base, the manager had to weigh the offense versus the pitcher (and what his bullpen had that day). Now, Martinez can decide strictly on performance if he should stay in.

One final factor exists, too: the chances of Max Scherzer breaking his face go way down.

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Carter Kieboom breaks Ryan Zimmerman's single-game record for assists by a Nats third baseman

Carter Kieboom breaks Ryan Zimmerman's single-game record for assists by a Nats third baseman

Nationals rookie infielder Carter Kieboom set a new team record for the most infield assists by a third baseman in a game when he recorded 10 over the first eight innings against the Orioles on Friday night.

Kieboom passed Ryan Zimmerman’s record of eight assists, set “many times” according to Nationals Director of Communications Kyle Brostowitz.

Though Kieboom was shifted around the infield for most of the night, his new record comes after an offseason full of questions about his defense.

The natural shortstop is Washington’s heir apparent to Anthony Rendon, who departed for the Los Angeles Angels in free agency last offseason after seven seasons with the Nationals. Kieboom had started just nine games at third in the minor leagues before the start of this season.

He still has plenty left to prove as a major-league third baseman, but Kieboom's record did come on an eventful night for the rookie. In addition to his feat (albeit, a bit fluky of one), Kieboom went 2-4 at the plate with an RBI and two runs scored.

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Nationals pull Stephen Strasburg after 16 pitches with apparent hand injury

Nationals pull Stephen Strasburg after 16 pitches with apparent hand injury

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg was pulled just 16 pitches into his start against the Orioles on Friday after visibly shaking his hand and wincing after several pitches.

The reigning World Series MVP missed the start of the season with a nerve issue in his throwing hand. He returned to the mound Sunday, also against Baltimore, and cruised through four innings before things fell apart in the fifth. On Wednesday, Nationals manager Davey Martinez expressed concern with how he was still feeling a tingling sensation in his hand.

“I was a little bit concerned,” Martinez said during a Zoom press conference. “We will see how he feels. Yesterday he threw a little bit. He still felt it, so we will see where he is at. It’s raining right now, so we will see if he can go out there and throw again today. But we will definitely have to keep an eye on it. It’s a weird thing. He doesn’t feel it all the time. I know he’s in the training room working with the staff and trying to get it to go away.”

Strasburg faced only three batters Friday before getting the hook. He recorded two outs around a solo home run off the bat of outfielder Anthony Santander and was replaced by right-hander Erick Fedde.

The news comes on the heels of the Nationals losing second baseman Starlin Castro to a broken wrist and announcing that lefty reliever Sam Freeman was transferred to the 60-Day Injured List.

Strasburg is in the first season of a seven-year, $245 million extension he signed with the Nationals last offseason.

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