The Nationals new manager Dave Martinez has been kind enough to post up his snazzy line-up cards with depth charts in advance. Clearly, Ryan Zimmerman was supposed to start at 1st base and lead-off per the photo attached in Jorge Castillo‘s tweet (below) and he was scratched due to stiffness. Yes, kind of quirky to lead-off with Zim, and one beat writer reasoned that it was to give him more at-bats. Really? This early in Spring Training the #3 batter can usually get as many at-bats as the lead-off man. Ryan Zimmerman had never led-off in his entire pro career. He had only started 46-games in his career in the 2-hole. During last year’s Spring Training, we got to see the “new and improved” Zim. Unfortunately, we have also seen the aging Zimmerman scratched many times before for “general soreness”. No need to panic — this is just precautionary because if this was the regular season Zim would be in the line-up. Have you heard that line before?
This is what’s happening tomorrow. Zimmerman will lead off. pic.twitter.com/OhjiSDIdK8
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) February 24, 2018
We know why Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy are not in today’s line-up per the plan. We should find out soon when Zim can get back in the line-up. Otherwise, this is your March 29th Opening Day line-up — and yes, this is the Nats official Grapefruit League home opener.
Max Scherzer gets the rock, and he will face a familiar foe in the Atlanta Braves who the Nats face annually 19-times a season as an NL East division rival. Scherzer is scheduled for 2 innings, and he will probably throw less pitches than he did in his first bullpen session when he threw 65-pitches. Who knows, maybe Scherzer talks Davey Martinez into 3 or 4 innings today (written with some humor), and the issue with changing up pitching roles in Spring Training is that other pitchers wouldn’t get their work in versus players in game situations.
The Braves have changed things up a little from last year — but not much. They didn’t sign one top-50 Free Agent. Not one. They did get Peter Moylan back and signed Chris Stewart who gives them three starting catchers to go with an outfield that is in need of depth. They had a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers and no more Matt Kemp, however they got a few new players: Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, and Brandon McCarthy. The Braves then quickly DFA’d Adrian Gonzalez. It will be Scott Kazmir coincidentally starting today. Here is the rest of the Braves 40-man roster and amazingly they are only carrying 4 outfielders. Here is the list of their NRI’s which include the #2 prospect in baseball, Ronald Acuna.
In the pre-game, Davey Martinez spoke to his line-up formation of Trea Turner hitting in the 2-hole.
“I told [Trea Turner that] ‘If you hit second, lead-off, wherever you hit in the lineup, it doesn’t change anything,’ ” Davey Martinez said. “I want him to be aggressive on the bases, and he knows that. We had a great conversation and I told him ‘Hey, you’re going to steal. As a hitter behind you, I’d much rather have you on second base than at first base.’ I said, ‘We’ve got to be conscious of the situations of the game.’ And that’s something that we’ll talk about throughout spring training.”
The plan appears to be leading-off with Adam Eaton who had a .393 OBP (on-base-percentage) last season with the Nationals, and he averaged .362 with the White Sox in the previous three seasons. All of those stats point to Eaton in lead-off ahead of Turner — but that would seem to create an almost automatic red light with Bryce Harper batting behind Trea Turner — right? That had been the conventional wisdom under the management of Dusty Baker, but according to the new Nats’ manager, that won’t be the case.
“Do I want Bryce to swing the bat? Of course,” Dave Martinez said. “Will he get frustrated? No. We’ve had that conversation, too, that he’d rather [Turner] be on second base to drive in a run. A base hit drives in a run. So they’re all good. They all understand. My biggest model for them as baserunners is: How can we get to third base with less than two outs?” the manager said. “Yesterday, you watch [Wilmer Difo] go first to third on a ball that he probably shouldn’t have. But that’s the way I want them to play the game. Especially down here. I told them, ‘I’ll never criticize you going first to third in spring training, ever. Because I want to see how many times you can make it.’”
As far as third base, Bob Henley aka “Sendley” rarely flashes the stop sign. It is usually the windmill going as he sends runners home.
“Coming in this past winter, [Bob Henley’s], decision-making at third base has been really good,” Martinez said. “I know that, so I want him to be aggressive. And you know what, I told the baserunners, we had this conversation: He’s just there to really stop you. You got to go. He’s only there to stop you.”
Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida
1st Pitch: 1:05 pm EDT
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com App
Line-up subject to change (without notice):
- Brian Goodwin LF
- Trea Turner SS
- Bryce Harper RF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Matt Adams 1B
- Howie Kendrick 2B
- Matt Wieters C
- Michael Taylor CF
- Chris Dominguez DH
Max Scherzer RHP