For Stephen Strasburg, his boyhood team was the San Diego Padres, and today he gets to face them again. If it was not for the wind in Washington, D.C. today, it would feel like weather over La Jolla on a winter day. Strasburg shutout the Marlins six days ago in the team’s best pitching performance of the season. Even the offense woke-up in that game and scored 5 runs. This season, the Nats have scored 3-or-fewer runs in 10 of the team’s 24 games. Part of the problem is batters who are not hitting their weight. At some point, manager Dave Martinez has to stop wishing upon a star and deal with the reality of the situation. The middle of the lineup on this team went 1-for-15 last night and that only hit was a swinging bunt from Juan Soto.
In fact if you put the recently benched Wilmer Difo (.246 BA) at 2nd base, and Howie Kendrick (.343 BA) at 1st base, the Nats would pick up 199 points in batting average which would give you about 1 ½ additional hits per game over playing Brian Dozier (.176 BA) and Ryan Zimmerman (.214 BA). That current duo is not even hitting their weight, and while they might have some hits today, last night’s game was part of the reason this team is struggling on offense.
“We couldn’t get nothing going with the bats today,” manager Dave Martinez said last night. “Zim’s going to come out of it. I know it. Dozier is swinging the bat better. We’re gonna keep pushing, and win a lot of games.”
That seems to be Dave Martinez‘s answer to starting the “best nine” which he and general manager Mike Rizzo promised in the off-season.
“…We are going to play the best 9-players that are the best that day and may the best man win,” Mike Rizzo said.
“…Like Mike said, the best 9-guys will play every day — most of the time — but you still have a job to do off of the bench,” Dave Martinez said.
So far the promises have been empty words and for all the pontificating the Nationals brass has done, they are now two games under .500 today. For what looked to be the easiest 10 days on the Nationals early season schedule has been a frustrating stretch.
The Nationals will face the Padres today without Anthony Rendon — again — missing from the starting lineup. Rendon was out of sync and did not look comfortable last night as you might expect when a batter has not played in nearly a week. San Diego sends the left-handed Eric Lauer to the mound and a Padres lineup with 4 batters at .200 and below.
Here is the difference between these two teams, the Padres payroll is nearly half of the Nationals as the Padres are just over $100 million and the Nationals are nearly at $200 million. The NL West team spent their money on Eric Hosmer last year and Manny Machado this year but the rest of their lineup is made up of 4 starting position players at league minimum when they needed one more star player. With that said, the Padres are 4 games over .500 because they have had some very good pitching and timely hits.
San Diego Padres vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 4:05 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: