Game #2 Tanner Roark gets the start for the Washington Nationals; Line-up lefties is a topic for discussion!

Two days ago we celebrated a dramatic come-from-behind win on Opening Day for the Washington Nationals, and the day off was set as a weather contingency in case Opening Day was rained out. The day off was certainly needed by Anthony Rendon who is recovering from a deep calf bruise, but for fans who want more baseball, it becomes a day of counting down to today for the second game of the season. For some of the players, they got some much needed time with their families who were attending Opening Day as many flew in from out-of-town to attend.

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

In Dusty Baker‘s post-game presser the question of batting order came up about  Trea Turner to Adam Eaton followed by two lefties like Bryce Harper to Daniel Murphy.

This Q&A was transcribed by Virginiascopist as she was kind enough (as always) to write it up for us:

QUESTION: What did you think of the way Turner and Eaton functioned 1-2?
DUSTY: Yeah. Well, I mean, they functioned well, and, you know, that’s something that I – that’s why in spring training I experimented with so many different lineups, you know, to see – to try to have guys be in that situation so it’s not foreign to them once we start. And it helps that they didn’t have a lefty over there, which is the reason why he was there – you know, the three lefties in the first place, which I’m not crazy about and, you know, we’ll probably do something different had – if they come up with a lefty before Wednesday or if we’re playing a team that has a lot of lefties. And so – you know, he came in and we discussed it, you know, before the game.

While Mike Rizzo made it clear many times that he is not concerned about batting Turner and Eaton together in the line-up followed by Harper and Murphy together, Dusty Baker has clearly made his feelings known that Monday was just because the Marlins did not start a lefty pitcher and they had no lefties in their bullpen. Yes, we want to thank the Marlins general manager Michael Hill for putting no left-handed pitchers in his bullpen.

“…they didn’t have a lefty over there, which is the reason why he was there,” Dusty Baker said after the dramatic win on Monday. “[We did] the three lefties in the first place, which I’m not crazy about and, you know, we’ll probably do something different had – if they come up with a lefty.”

In certain situations, Dusty Baker is probably correct and there is the issue of slugging percentage, but based solely on batting average, Eaton hit righties last year at .285 and lefties at .284, and Daniel Murphy hit lefties better than most righties can on their best day as Murphy batted .329 against all lefties and an amazing .378 against lefty relievers last year. The question is more to which Bryce Harper we will see in 2017? Bryce’s fall-off against left-handed pitchers in his career is not a great divide as he has hit RHPs at .290 and LHPs at .252 which is a 38 point difference.

The point is, none of these three left-handed batters are the right-handed version of Scott Hairston up there where he is an automatic out, but there are some left-handed pitchers who statistically are better than others, and that is when you want to separate your left-handed batters, not make a blanket statement that if a team has even one left-handed reliever we should shudder in our seats.

“It was awesome,” Trea Turner said after the game. “If I wasn’t on base, he was. He had some great at-bats today and I think that’s what we need at the top of the lineup: just getting on base and hopefully we can do that a lot more.”

Ryan Zimmerman has been around these players for a long time and got to see Adam Eaton during the spring and Daniel Murphy in the NL East for a long time.

“I mean all those guys can hit lefties anyway,” Ryan Zimmerman said explaining that Eaton, Harper, and Murphy can hit anyone. “Good teams have depth. [We] have a bunch of different guys that can do bunch of different things that’s what makes those teams so hard to beat because for nine innings you have to worry about a lot of people.”

Again, Dusty Baker doesn’t seem to agree with Mike Rizzo or his players on the line-up construction and last we checked, it is Dusty Baker who pencils up the line-up card each game.

“Having three [left-handed batters] in a row from the same side, then three in a row from the other side just makes it so easy for the other manager to use his bullpen,” Dusty Baker said.

Mike Rizzo seems to not agree with his manager if you agree with this passage written by Tom Boswell:

“General Manager Mike Rizzo has insisted that hitting three lefties in a row is not a strategic problem if the trio is Eaton, Harper and Murphy ‘because their splits are basically the same against both left and right-handed pitching’.”

Here are the match-ups against the Marlins starter right-handed Dan Straily:

Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, DC
1st Pitch:  7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, Fox Sports Florida, MLB.TV

Line-ups  (subject to change without notice):

  1. Trea Turner SS
  2. Adam Eaton CF
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Daniel  Murphy 2B
  5. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
  6. Anthony Rendon 3B
  7. Jayson Werth LF
  8. Matt Wieters C
  9. Tanner Roark RHP
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