PHILADELPHIA — A few weeks ago, the assumption was Brian Goodwin and Stephen Drew were probably not playing another game for the Nationals in 2017. Goodwin experienced a setback in his recovery from a groin injury. Drew was contemplating surgery to repair his torn abdominal muscle. But the pair then began making considerable progress, participating in on-field pregame activities alongside teammates. And with five games remaining in the regular season, Dusty Baker said Wednesday he believes both could be available in the postseason.
Goodwin is closer. While Drew is with the Nationals, Goodwin, who was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 16, is in West Palm Beach, Fla., participating in instructional league games. Instead of activating him before the end of the regular season Sunday, Baker indicated Goodwin will stay in Florida. The team can control his at-bats and give him as many as necessary there.
The Nationals also need to give outfielders Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth at-bats. There are only so many to go around. But Baker said Goodwin appears to be kind of on target to maybe be “available” for the National League Division Series, which begins Oct. 6 at Nationals Park. Goodwin was instrumental in helping the Nationals overcome injuries this season, belting 13 home runs to go with an .811 OPS in 74 games before his injury.
“Goody’s been great,” Baker said. “He’s been outstanding for us. Between he and [Wilmer] Difo, they’re vying for sixth man of the year in basketball. And they’re on the same team. They’ve been a big part of our success.”
Drew, meanwhile, could be available later in the postseason if the Nationals advance, according to Baker. The 34-year-old infielder hasn’t played since July 25. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list four days later and was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 28. He said he will almost definitely need surgery for his abdominal muscle tear, but is postponing it to play again this season.
While Difo will likely play the role of utility backup infielder in the playoffs, having Drew available gives Washington an experienced option later in the postseason should an unexpected event pop up. Goodwin’s likely competition for a spot on the postseason will be Victor Robles, the 20-year-old rookie. Robles was unexpectedly called up for the first time earlier this month, because, the club said, Goodwin experienced a setback with his groin injury.
Elsewhere on the playoff roster, Baker hinted that the Nationals are still undecided on who will back up Matt Wieters at catcher. The club could go with both Pedro Severino and Jose Lobaton, and carry a six-man bench. Or they could choose one. Severino will start in Wednesday’s series finale against the Phillies. Baker said Lobaton will start Thursday against the Pirates.
Lobaton is batting .163 with a .514 OPS in 151 plate appearances this season, but provides a familiar target behind the plate for pitchers. Severino, 24, spent most of the season with Class AAA Syracuse. He is batting .185 in 27 plate appearances with Washington. Both catchers were on Washington’s playoff roster a year ago because Wilson Ramos tore his anterior cruciate ligament with a week remaining in the regular season.
“We’ve got to make a decision on a lot of things,” Baker said. “That’s what we’re in the process of doing.”
At the other end of the battery, the Nationals announced their pitching probables for their final regular season series against the Pirates, a four-game set that begins Thursday. Edwin Jackson will pitch Thursday, followed by Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Gio Gonzalez.
Trea Turner SS
Bryce Harper RF
Daniel Murphy 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Anthony Rendon 3B
Jayson Werth LF
Michael A. Taylor CF
Pedro Severino C
Tanner Roark RHP
Cesar Hernandez 2B
Freddy Galvis SS
Nick Williams RF
Rhys Hoskins 1B
Aaron Altherr LF
Odubel Herrera CF
Jorge Alfaro C
JP Crawford 3B
Mark Leiter Jr RHP
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