A day to help the Nationals sort out pitching questions


The Baseball Tonight bus has arrived in Viera for its piece on the Nationals, and so far only a couple people have mistaken John Kruk for Dave Sheinin. Several Nationals players worked out this morning, with the rest of them ready to drive to Port St. Lucie tonight for a game against the Mets.

Tom Gorzelanny will start that game, and it’ll be important for him to show some progress from his first outing, when he allowed five hits and three walks to the Astros in the process of recording seven outs. Gorzelanny threw his fastball between 84 and 88 miles per hour, mostly hitting 86.

Gorzelanny’s fastball averaged 89.9 miles per hour last season, and General Manager Mike Rizzo said his scouts clocked it consistently at 92 late in the year. While Gorzelanny was happy with how he felt, it seems he still has some strength to build before the season begins. There is still ample time, but the Nationals would be encouraged by progress tonight.

Back in Viera, Chad Gaudin will pitch in a minor league game. His performance this spring has kept him in the running for the fifth starter spot, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine the season will begin with any rotation other than Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann and Gorzelanny.

Gaudin, 27, might fill the long-relief, spot-start role Miguel Batista so capably handled last season. But another, more surprising candidate – a pitcher who will travel with the Nationals to Port St. Lucie – has emerged to make the team in a similar role: right-hander Brian Broderick, the Rule 5 pick for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Broderick, 24, has never pitched above Class AA, which made his chances to stick with the Nationals seem dim at the start of camp since the Nationals had to keep him on the 25-man roster in order not to risk losing him back to the Cardinals. With excellent control of his low-90s sinker, Broderick has opened some eyes in his four appearances.

Broderick has allowed one earned run in 7 2/3 innings on four hits and no walks, striking out four. In his last outing, he entered with the bases having been loaded by Henry Rodriguez and one out. Broderick escaped the jam without allowing a run.

Yunesky Maya could be another candidate for that bullpen role, but since he has an option it seems far more likely the Nationals would start him at Class AAA Syracuse in order to hold on to either Broderick or Gaudin. While most of the Nationals’ pitching staff appears, they still have a few decisions to make before opening day. With both Broderick and Gaudin pitching, today coudl help that process.

For tonight, here are the Nationals position players traveling to PSL:

Jesus Flores

Derek Norris

Ivan Rodriguez

Brian Bixler

Ian Desmond

Danny Espinosa

Alberto Gonzalez

Jerry Hairston

Adam LaRoche

Chris Marrero

Ryan Zimmerman

Rick Ankiel

Roger Bernadina

Michael Morse

Laynce Nix

Matt Stairs

Destin Hood (extra minor league player)

Alex Cintron (extra minor league player)

And the pitchers:

Collin Balester

Tom Gorzelanny

Cole Kimball

Henry Rodriguez

Craig Stammen

Brian Broderick

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.

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