Game #65 Bryce Harper in Yankee Stadium; Daniel Murphy in NY

Kevin Long with Daniel Murphy. Photo by Lee Heiman for TalkNats

Some expected Daniel Murphy to be back on Opening Day this season, and when that did not happen the date seemed to drift to May 1st. When that didn’t happen, the Nationals started to play some good baseball, and the need for Daniel “Hits” Murphy no longer had the same urgency. Murphy went on a rehab assignment at the Nationals’ Double-A Harrisburg affiliate, and last week a video of Murphy surfaced which caused a lot of panic that Daniel Murphy might never play again.

Imaginations were swirling with negativity after a Washington Post article titled “Daniel Murphy does not look ready to return to Nationals” quoted an anonymous scout who described Murphy as “gimpy,” “struggling to move laterally” and lacking “straight-ahead speed.” A few games after that article ran, Murphy jacked a home run in a 2-for-3 game with 2 walks and continued to do what Daniel Murphy does — hit. If there is a lesson to be learned — don’t jump to conclusions based on a compilation video of lowlights.

The issue which has been a longstanding problem is Murphy’s defense and with the recovery from his knee surgery, can he make the crossover steps necessary to thrust to groundballs. The key for now is get Daniel Murphy key at-bats as a designated hitter and a key bench bat, and keep working pregame in drills for the defense.

So Kevin Long returns to where he made his name in Yankee Stadium and he brings with him a former pupil from the other New York team. The Nationals need to jump-start an offense that frankly has been offensive to watch lately so Daniel Murphy gets the call. There is a trio of batters of Juan Soto, Michael Taylor, and Spencer Kieboom who are the only batters over .300 the last 2 weeks, and if you look at OBP add Adam Eaton to that list. That’s a total of 99 plate appearances for that quartet and not great over an 11 game sample size. Anthony Rendon and Max Scherzer are in the middle of acceptable, and everyone else is below that line — there are too many names to mention.

What we don’t know is what the short-term to long-term plan is for Daniel Murphy who does not look ready to play 2nd base with reasonable expectations that he could be even close to acceptable defensively where middle infield is so demanding, but we will see as you just don’t know how quickly Murphy can progress.

The Nationals are in need in many spots including replacements for Stephen Strasburg, Jeremy Hellickson, Brandon Kintzler, and Matt Wieters. It is anticipated that Erick Fedde will start tomorrow, and five days after that it could be Fedde again or Jefrey Rodriguez or possibly both by next Tuesday if Jeremy Hellickson is not ready to go.

With rumors swirling about the Nationals inquiring on J.T. Realmuto, it doesn’t take a genius to see Pedro Severino has lost his legs and has struggled mightily with the bat. He is now batting .197 for the season which is just below Spencer Kieboom‘s .208. All of that makes Matt Wieters .231 look like Silver Slugger numbers, but truth be told, that’s not good enough. The Nats seem to lean hard on their starting catchers, and the team ranks near the bottom of catcher offense and a tick ahead of the Red Sox.

There should be many teams checking in with the Marlins on Realmuto and Jon Morosi thinks the Pirates will be willing to trade Francisco Cervelli along with the Tampa Bay Rays as a trade partner with Wilson Ramos. Are there other names that could be made available?

In order to make room on the roster for Daniel Murphy, the Nationals optioned Adrian Sanchez back to Triple-A Syracuse. Because Murphy was only on the 10-day DL, they did not have to open a spot on the 40-man roster like they had to do with Adam Eaton.

Back to discussing today’s game. The Yankees start C.C. Sabathia and the visiting Nationals go with Tanner Roark. The question for both teams is which version of these inconsistent pitchers show up tonight?

Keep your eyes out for familiar faces in right field as Draz and Travel Nats and Half Street Irregulars are there tonight.

Washington Nationals vs. New York Yankees
Stadium: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
1st Pitch:  7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app

Line-ups subject to change without notice:

  1. Adam Eaton LF
  2. Trea Turner SS
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Anthony Rendon 3B
  5. Daniel Murphy DH
  6. Mark Reynolds 1B
  7. Michael Taylor CF
  8. Pedro Severino C
  9. Wilmer Difo 2B

Tanner Roark RHP

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