The season is a marathon, and the sprint has started as there are 39 games for the Nationals remaining in the regular season. The Nats are back above .500 and optimism has returned about a lineup that got the bats going over the last few days, and will look healthier in the next few days when Denard Span returns.
With Werth, Rendon and Ramos all contributing in big ways, and with Escobar sidelined, Espinosa stepped up again in the clutch. Michael A. Taylor had quite the run with HRs and RBIs in the last week, and Bryce showed he can go oppo to beat the defensive shifts employed on him with just the flick of the bat aimed down the vacated 3rd base line. Werth got back over the Mendoza line with a .202 BA and Ian Desmond raised his BA to .229.
The best news could be Denard Span’s imminent return to the Nationals line-up; however, this will change the outfield alignment with Michael Taylor being the most likely odd man out. Denard Span will man centerfield, and Bryce Harper will occupy rightfield. Most likely Jayson Werth is the every day leftfielder which will limit Michael A. Taylor’s playing time. The good news is that MAT can be a much needed late inning defensive replacement, and can also give any of the outfielders some needed days off, but Matt Williams has never been too keen on many “rest” days for his veterans in the infield or outfield as well as days off for his 2 young studs in Rendon and Harper.
Soon Michael A. Taylor will be able to commiserate with Danny Espinosa as they both occupy the bench while thinking they deserve significant playing time. It’s just the way it is under the management of Matt Williams, and while MW has various stats to show Espinosa is better on the bench, there’s no way to dance around the stats and try to convince us Jayson R. G. Werth is superior to Michael A. Taylor as the leftfielder. In almost every offensive stat and every defensive stat, MAT ranks higher than Werth. If there’s any question, FanGraphs rates MAT as #1 on the entire Nats team in defense. The important note here is that while we think MAT is better than JDub, we have made previous points that even MAT’s season totals are weak for a corner outfielder and Mike Rizzo could have upgraded LF through a trade.
Here’s the movie screen version of the 2015 slashline comparison of Werth to Taylor:
Thursday’s lineup in the series finale with the Padres could very well look like this:
- Denard Span CF
- Anthony Rendon 2B
- Bryce Harper RF
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Yunel Escobar 3B
- Ian Desmond SS
- Jayson Werth LF
- José Lobaton C
- Gio Gonzalez P
The week ahead includes series in Washington against the Padres followed by the Marlins and then the Nats fly out next Sunday night for a road trip to St. Louis to start on Monday August 31st.