The Nationals are set to open their first-ever NLCS in St. Louis on Friday night and their series roster features an interesting note. Reliever Daniel Hudson is starting the series on the paternity list. His wife gave birth and he hung back in Washington D.C. He'll likely join his team for Game 2, but this could have a big impact in Game 1.
First off, congratulations to Hudson and his family. It's great that everything went well. Also, Nats manager Davey Martinez in his remarks before Game 1 was supportive of Hudson's decision. Here's what he said:
"Yeah, I talked to him -- well, I tried to talk to him earlier this morning to see what was going on. Didn't hear back from him. Apparently the baby didn't want to come out until later on this morning. So everything's fine, he had a little girl, congratulate him and his wife. But we're going to miss him today, he's going to try to get back here possibly tomorrow. But for me I told him I said, hey, family's always first. I mean, I get it, I understand. The timing didn't work out like we thought, baby wasn't ready to come out. So we get him back when we get him back."
As for the team, this definitely puts the Nats in a bind for Game 1. Since joining the Nationals, Hudson pitched to a 1.44 ERA with 23 strikeouts against two unintentional walks in 25 regular-season innings. He closed down the wild card game with only a one-run lead and then worked 2 2/3 scoreless with a win and a save in the NLDS round.
Hudson is the most reliable arm the Nationals have in the bullpen. Next comes Sean Doolittle and that's about it. The reason Dave Martinez has had to use all three of his aces in relief at different points this postseason is because the bullpen is such a mess. Now he's without his top relief arm for at least one game.
In the meantime, he's going to need someone from the group of Tanner Rainey, Hunter Strickland, Wander Suero, Fernando Rodney, Roenis Elias, Javy Guerra and Austin Voth to step up. Rainey seems first up, since he got two key outs in Game 5 of the NLDS. I don't know how he can trust Rodney or Strickland and Suero was bad in Game 3. Perhaps Voth gets a chance? That should be the play. He hasn't pitched since Sept. 27, but he pitched to a 2.35 ERA in September and was starting games down the stretch. His stuff could play up in the bullpen.
Regardless, Dave Martinez will have to come through with a masterful performance to win Game 1, unless his offense goes off (which is entirely possible), because his bullpen is a mess and he's down his best option.