Nationals

Quick Links

Nats' bench has 'gamers' that continue to produce when called upon

Nats' bench has 'gamers' that continue to produce when called upon

One of the benefits of having a quality bench is the ability rest regulars without fear of a significant drop off. And with the way the Nationals reserves have been playing this season, Dusty Baker shouldn't have to think twice about giving the likes of Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa a day off, as he did in Saturday's 8-0 win over the Phillies. 

"They’re always prepared," the Nats' manager said of his bench. "That makes it easier on me for when I call upon a guy."

With the trio of veteran starters out of the lineup, it was up to Clint Robinson, Michael Taylor and Stephen Drew to pick up the slack — and they did so with ease. They were a combined 7-for-11 with three RBIs, punctuating what has been an explosive week for the Nats offense. And for good measure, even Chris Heisey notched a pinch-hit double and scored in the eighth inning, giving the usual bench crew (minus backup catcher Jose Lobaton) a hit on the afternoon. 

"We're all, I'd like to use the term 'gamers', I guess," Robinson said. "We do what we need to do to stay ready. We're three months into the season now and we know the gig, so guys do what they have to do to stay ready and we're lucky enough to go out and have some good games and be productive."

"I think it's really good right now," Taylor added. "I think everybody's just going in there trying to do something to help the team. Not always trying to get that homer....everyone's staying ready and locked in."

Of course, many of Baker's reserves have earned the right to start occasionally based on how they've come up big in pinch-hit situations. The Nats already have eight pinch-hit home runs on the year, tying the single-season team record with more than a half of the 2016 campaign left to go. 

So how is it that this motley crew — one mostly comprised of veterans used to playing everyday earlier in their careers — can come in cold and continue to perform? 

"Number one, they work hard," Baker said. "And they don’t get caught off guard. Because if anything, you can always turn it off if you’re not called upon, but it’s hard to turn it on all of a sudden."

"Turning it on" isn't easy to do, but the Nats have found a way to assemble a group of reserves that have each found their respective niche and excelled. Of course, a productive bench is not the end-all be-all for a club with playoff aspirations, but it's something that could be an X factor should the Nats find themselves in a pennant race down the road. 

"The bench is gonna be crucial," Robinson said, "just like it is to every winning team, and I think right now all the guys are doing a pretty good job."

Quick Links

Andy Martino of SNY refutes the reports that the Nats are out on Harper

Andy Martino of SNY refutes the reports that the Nats are out on Harper

Despite Mark Lerner's comments to NBC Sports Washington that the team hasn't been in recent contact with Bryce Harper and has filled out the roster, SNY's Andy Martino says not to give up hope.


"Do not believe that the Nationals are out on Harper," Martino said. "People I talk to around the situation are saying don't rule the Nationals out until the moment that Harper signs elsewhere."


Martino believes that the clearest options may not be what they seem.


"The Phillies of course are pursuing him, but I continue to hear they have a tough road to get Harper to come to Philly," he said. "The Phillies are possible but I don’t know that I would call them frontrunners."

After the news of Manny Machado signing with the Padres, all eyes turn to Bryce Harper and how long this continues to drag out. 

The clock is ticking.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: 

Quick Links

How to watch NBC Sports Washington's full interview with Nationals owner Mark Lerner

How to watch NBC Sports Washington's full interview with Nationals owner Mark Lerner

When Nationals principal managing owner Mark Lerner  see his team lose, he has a postgame ritual that rivals one of the most ordinary passionate fan.

“ I go into a closet and scream a little after,” Lerner told NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas in an exclusive interview in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Friday. “No, no. That’s one thing that’s good about baseball. You’re going to play the next day. But I go home. I’m totally depressed. I won’t turn on the sports news or anything and get up the next morning, it’s a new day, get up and go after it again today. When I’m sitting down there, I’m very passionate as a fan. I’m yelling at the umpires like everybody else. I want to win. I hate losing exhibition games let alone regular-season games.”

Lerner also spoke about Bryce Harper's future - or lack thereof - with the team, Anthony Rendon and what he expects from the team this season.

The interview is now available in full on the MyTeams app, which can be downloaded here.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: