The Washington Nationals are back home and further behind than before they headed on their road trip through Arizona and Chicago. The team is at 17-23 and their competitor they are facing this weekend stands at 17-26. Baseball has not been kind on the east coast south of New York City except for those two teams playing in the Tampa area.
Manager Dave Martinez announced last night that Stephen Strasburg will be activated today and will start today’s game. The team will have to make a corresponding move to add Strasburg to the active roster. With both Paolo Espino and Kyle McGowin temporarily on the roster due to the COVID-IL moves for Erick Fedde and Tanner Rainey, the Nats could just send either Espino or McGowin back to Triple-A.
What this Nats team has to do is start to hit the ball for hits that drive in runs. The Nats are No. 1 in overall batting average in the NL at .251. They are the third worst team in RBI production with runners-in-scoring-position (RISP) with 94 — only ahead of the Yankees and Mets. We saw the problem with this Nats team yesterday. Josh Harrison had a lead-off double in the 5th inning in a pinch-hitting spot. Lefty Andrew Stevenson‘s role as the next batter was to pull the ball to move JHay to third base. His situational hitting failed and Stevenson struck out. It was a 4-2 game at the time. It should have been 4-3, but Harrison never scored because he was not moved up. Fundamentals failed. The reason RBIs matter more than anything in RISP spots is because you can score runs with productive outs with less than two outs. In low scoring games, pushing across runs in those spots is essential.
This team is failing as a team. They are failing at the little things. Be it poor baserunning like we saw from Juan Soto trying to steal second base with one out and a runner on third base to pitchers who are not pitching to their defensive positioning to poor lineup construction. How many more times do we have to watch an opposing manager bring in a lefty reliever to face Soto, Josh Bell, and Kyle Schwarber to watch Bell bat from the right side and fail again? Bell is failing at an alarming rate of 2-for-24 batting .083 as a righty batter and at some point you have to accept Bell for what he is and blame the manager for leaving him in key spots to fail. Sure, the law of averages says that Bell cannot be that bad, but every opposing manager knows what to do if Bell is batting after Soto. At some point, will this lineup be constructed to maximize or at least use Zim to pinch-hit against the lefties?
The players look frustrated, and the fans certainly are. While it was good to see Martinez show some urgency with quicker hooks over the weekend of his starting pitchers, this team has to start driving home runs and taking advantage of the situations.
Is there any detail in that graphic to change your mind on lineup construction? At some point, you have to stop thinking about mindsets of the old-school approach and go with the eye-test and the analytics. Maybe they were right when they had Harrison batting second after Trea Turner. It also seems that Yan Gomes should be batting higher than Josh Bell in the batting order.
Find the right batting order to face the Orioles righty Jorge Lopez. The Nats need to get into a groove and start to make their move in the NL East.
In other news, Victor Robles is going today for an MRI on his ankle which is still sore. This is being done to be proactive for the injury since he was still feeling pain today. Clearly he will not be in the lineup today.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, MASN2, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-ups subject to change without notice: