There are still about two weeks until MLB rosters expand from 25 to 40 players, but during that time Nationals brass will be looking at their minor league teams to see who they want for a September showcase. Some may be brought up to play key, specialized roles for the seasons final month. Some may be called upon to potentially stay on board for the playoffs. And some may simply be called up to gain MLB experience for the future or a possible trade.
Last season the Nats brought up a few familiar names including Steve Lombardozzi who is now a key member of the 2012 club. They also pulled up pitchers Brad Peacock and Tom Milone who, after showing they belonged in the big leagues, were shipped to Oakland for All-Star Gio Gonzalez.
This year the Nats find themselves in a much different position with the best record in the league and likely cant afford handing out starts to minor league pitchers. They may, however, utilize several guys in very specific roles to help boost their team and rest some of their players during the home stretch.
Rosters can be expanded on September 1st, but the Nats' Triple-A affiliate Syracuse Chiefs play until September 3rd so they may not be brought up until then.
Here are some players the Nats may call up:
OF Corey Brown
Brown has made two stints with the big league club this season, a three-game visit in May and a six-game spot in July. He was sent back down in lieu of Chad Tracy who returned from injury two games after Brown hit his first major league home run. Brown has power, can play the outfield, and can also help on the basepaths with 16 stolen bases in 107 games with Syracuse.
OF Eury Perez
Perez can help the Nationals defensively as a speedy outfielder, but if he is brought up it will most likely be for his base running. Perez has 43 stolen bases this year in 112 total minor league games this season and has adjusted well to Triple-A pitchers with a .330 average in 25 games.
IF Chris Marrero
Marrero may be called up only because he was with the team last September and proved he can hang at the big league level. He has worked his way back from injury this season and is still finding his swing with Syracuse. The Nats, however, already have Tyler Moore and Mark DeRosa who can do everything Marrero can do at this point and more.
LHP John Lannan
This one you can count on, Lannan will be brought up in September to take the rotation spot of Stephen Strasburg and assume the role of the teams fifth starter. He has been stashed at Syracuse all season, but was brought up twice since the All-Star break and earned the win in both outings. Lannan has pitched better at the MLB level this season than he has at Triple-A and the Nats expect him to jump right in and help continue their quest for a division title.
RHP Christian Garcia
MLB.com reported that Garcia will likely be called up in September as the 26-year-old reliever has been dominant for Syracuse. In 20 appearances with the Chiefs he has a 0.36 ERA and has held opponents to a .107 batting average. He hasnt allowed a run since June and has 33 strikeouts in 25.1 innings. Garcia is expected to see some action in September and there is a slim, outside chance he could stay on for October. If an injury happens to their bullpen or if Drew Storen continues to struggle, a spot could open up.
LHP Zach Duke
Duke is an MLB veteran of seven seasons and has sort of revitalized his career in the minor leagues this year. With Syracuse he is 13-5 with a 3.57 ERA in 23 games, not unbelievable numbers but they suggest he deserves another chance at the highest level. When Strasburg is shut down, he could be the next man up as far as starting pitchers in the event of an injury. Even if the Nats were to call on Tom Gorzelanny in that case, Duke could be the emergency fall back for a left-handed long relief man.
RHP Yunesky Maya
Maya was a September call-up last season, but his chances of being brought up this year are slim. Still, no one has pitched better for Syracuse this season as Maya leads the Chiefs rotation with a 3.52 ERA. He has a 1.11 WHIP through 145.2 innings and is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in the month of August. Nats fans have seen a lot of Maya before and know his tendency to fade in the middle of games, but if you are looking at Syracuses rotation he sure stands out.