Diving into the depths: Washington Nationals

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Washington Nationals
Rotation
1. John Lannan
2. Jason Marquis
3. Scott Olsen
4. Miguel Batista
5. Craig Stammen
6. Ross Detwiler
7. Shairon Martis
8. Garrett Mock
9. Stephen Strasburg
10. Collin Balester
11. J.D. Martin
12. Matt Chico
13. Marco Estrada
14. Aaron Thompson
Not that it’s saying much, but I liked it better before the Batista addition. The Nationals have indicated that he was signed for the rotation, but Stammen and especially Detwiler are better bets.
Bullpen
1. Matt Capps
2. Tyler Clippard
3. Sean Burnett
4. Brian Bruney
5. Tyler Walker
6. Eddie Guardado
7. Garrett Mock
8. Jason Bergmann
9. Miguel Batista
10. Craig Stammen
11. Logan Kensing
12. Doug Slaten
13. Ryan Speier
14. Drew Storen
15. Joel Peralta
16. Collin Balester
17. Marco Estrada
18. Victor Garate
19. Luis Atilano
20. Jesse English
The bullpen is an even bigger mess. Storen will eventually work his way up, but like Strasburg, he seems destined to open the season in the minors. I don’t have a lot of faith in Bruney, Walker or Guardado, but they’ll have to pitch their way off the team in camp. The Triple-A pen might be better than the major league pen at the start of the season.


Catcher
1. Jesus Flores
2. Ivan Rodriguez
3. Wil Nieves
4. Jamie Burke
First base
1. Adam Dunn
2. Mike Morse
3. Chris Duncan
4. Josh Whitesell
Second base
1. Cristian Guzman
2. Alberto Gonzalez
3. Willie Harris
4. Eric Bruntlett
5. Pete Orr
Third base
1. Ryan Zimmerman
2. Eric Bruntlett
3. Mike Morse
4. Pete Orr
Shortstop
1. Ian Desmond
2. Cristian Guzman
3. Alberto Gonzalez
The Nationals want Orlando Hudson for second base, so the depth chart could be shaken up again. There’s also been talk of signing a first baseman and returning Dunn to the outfield, though I don’t think that’s going to materialize. The only spot here that’s completely set is third base. I’m listing Flores ahead of Rodriguez, but much of that will depend on how he looks in spring training as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery.
Left field
1. Josh Willingham
2. Willie Harris
3. Justin Maxwell
4. Chris Duncan
5. Roger Bernadina
6. Jerry Owens
Center field
1. Nyjer Morgan
2. Justin Maxwell
3. Roger Bernadina
4. Willie Harris
5. Jerry Owens
Right field
1. Elijah Dukes
2. Justin Maxwell
3. Willie Harris
The outfield is in better shape. Maxwell is ready for an extended look in case of an injury and Harris remains a capable reserve. Joining those two and the backup catcher on the bench should be two from the group of Morse, Gonzalez and Bruntlett.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.