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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.