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Ryan Mattheus is first in line to make the bullpen if Drew Storen lands on the DL.
As of this morning, there are 38 players in big-league camp (that's counting Xavier Nady, who it appears has joined the mix). That means 13 players must be cut or placed on the disabled list before Opening Day.
We already know three players are guaranteed to start the year on the DL: Chris Marrero (hamstring), Cole Kimball (shoulder) and Chien-Ming Wang (hamstring). It's also probably safe to assume Drew Storen (elbow) and Michael Morse (lat) will wind up there, if only for a brief stint.
So that leaves 33 healthy players for 25 available spots on the Opening Day roster. Let's run through those remaining candidates, position-by-position...
CATCHERS (3)Who are the eight players most likely to be cut over the next week? There are some obvious candidates. Maldonado and Blanco are destined for Class AAA Syracuse, as are Perry and Severino.
STARTING PITCHERS (5)
RELIEF PITCHERS (11)
So that leaves only four remaining cuts, and by my count three roster spots still undecided: Two bench spots and one bullpen spot.
The contenders for those two bench spots: Carroll, Michaels, Tracy and Nady. Carroll seems like a lock at this point, because of his versatility, because of the fact he can be the right-handed member of a center field platoon with Ankiel and because Davey Johnson keeps talking him up (even mentioning him as a possible emergency third catcher).
So that leaves Michaels, Tracy and Nady battling it out for the final spot. Neither Michaels nor Tracy has dazzled this spring, so the opportunity is certainly there for Nady to snatch up a job if he plays well during this final week.
The last slot in the bullpen comes down to Mattheus, Stammen and Durbin. Stammen has pitched well, and would be a nice right-handed option as a long reliever, but the Nationals appear locked into two lefties as their long men: Gorzelanny and Detwiler. Durbin, meanwhile, is on a minor-league contract, and though he has an opt-out clause that would allow him to become a free agent, he might be inclined to report to Syracuse and bide his time.
Mattheus, on the other hand, probably best fills the Nationals' immediate need for another power right-hander who can pitch in a middle relief or setup role. Remember, with Storen on the DL, Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez are going to take over closing duties. That means someone has to take over the role those guys would usually hold. Mattheus looks like that guy.
Obviously, there's plenty that can still change over the next seven days. But that's where things appear to sit this morning. Who benefits the most if Morse and Storen open the season on the DL? Sure looks like Nady and Mattheus sit atop that list.