We’ve gone from “He’s my closer” to “This is my line-up” #Nats

It was no secret that Carlos Rodon was being replaced in the White Sox rotation with Miguel Gonzalez as the White Sox announced it in the early afternoon on Tuesday, and the media reported on it afterwards just like TalkNats and many others. Rodon is a lefty, and Gonzalez is a righty.

Dusty Baker is known for having his line-up cards prepared days in advance. The players like it so they can plan their days off, work-outs, etc. For bench players, it is great to know especially for their family and friends who can plan to see them ‘actually’ play instead of riding the pine. 

Rigidity of the inflexible is what some might call it. Stuck, stubborn, and always right is what a parent might call it describing their child, and others call it thoughtful and great planning. If you Google search those words you will get enough psycho-babble to blow your mind, but this was the ‘rub’ on Dusty Baker that he is stubborn and slow to change. Erasers, White-Out®, and the old fashioned strike-through cross-outs work to change the written words. Line-up cards are not etched in stone. Word processing programs make it even easier Chris Heisey LF to Ben Revere LF in a few keystrokes.

This is a “Stuff Happens” realism in Major League baseball that stuff happens out of the manager’s control all of the time. Players get hurt, players get sick, the opposing pitchers get hurt, the issues go on and on. We learned from MASN’s Dan Kolko that last night’s line-up card was originally configured for lefty Carlos Rodon, and Dusty did not want to change it. Dusty knew 3 days prior that lefty Rodon was being replaced by the righty Miguel Gonzalez, and had plenty of time to adjust his line-up card. Dusty could also take advantage of the designated hitter rule in the American League to reconfigure a line-up that was definitely going to have Gio’s preferred catcher in it which makes one sub-Mendoza batter already with Jose Lobaton. The Nationals are 9-11 in games where Lobaton plays.

If you believe in OPS+ as a projection tool, Wilson Ramos is second on the Nats only behind Daniel Murphy at a 150. Jose Lobaton is a 39. Traditional BA had Lobaton pre-game last night at a .163 BA compared to .345 for Ramos which would predict that Ramos gets on base more than twice as often as Lobaton. Each game is mutually exclusive of any prior stats as it was possible that Lobaton could go 4-4. Possible, not probable. No matter how you slice it, you give away a lot on offense when Lobaton is in the line-up and Ramos is not. Dusty must put together a good offensive line-up around Lobaton. Last night he had Michael Taylor and Chris Heisey in the starting line-up. Taylor came into the game with a .240 on-base percentage which is the lowest for any centerfielder with at least 150 plate appearances. Chris Heisey as a starter slashes .156/.250/.219/.469 which is nowhere near the amazing 1.357 OPS he puts up when he pinch-hits.

Yes, Dusty needs to get his bench players at-bats. The skeptics theorized that the get-away line-up last night was D.O.A. and would stop the offensive momentum. The positive thinkers expect that line-up still had a chance against Miguel Gonzalez and wouldn’t you know it the best offensive chance of the night was with Lobaton and Taylor getting back-to-back hits with Heisey at the plate in the 6th inning. Was that the time to go to a pinch-hitter for Heisey with Clint Robinson who had a nice 2-3 history against Miguel Gonzalez? Dusty stayed with Heisey.

Jun 9, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro (27) tags out Washington Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton (59) at home plate during the sixth inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 9, 2016 Chicago White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro tags out Washington Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton (59) at home plate during the 6th inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox middle infielders were playing back and conceding the run it would seem—or not. Jose Lobaton took a very small lead at 3rd base (you can see it in the video link that it was approximately 10 feet) in the 6th inning with the Nationals best chance to score with 2 on and no outs. Chris Heisey hit a hard shot to the shortstop Tyler Saladino who thought he had time to get Lobaton at the plate, and Saladino was right although it was by mere inches that was the difference between being out and being safe as Lobaton’s small lead and a moment’s hesitation was the ultimate difference. Also, Michael Taylor never advanced to 3rd base. Here is the video link. In better circumstances, Lobaton is safe at home, Taylor advances to 3rd, and Heisey is safe at 1st with a fielder’s choice with no outs. The only part of that scenario to actually happen: Heisey was safe at 1st with a fielder’s choice.

The small things add up. Inches. Personnel decisions. A moment’s hesitation. Change.

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