Nationals

Quick Links

What will Nats lineup look like now?

756752.png

What will Nats lineup look like now?

The Nationals club that takes the field tonight at PNC Park in Pittsburgh will look mighty different from the one we saw only 36 hours ago on Sunday Night Baseball. Ryan Zimmerman will be back at his familiar third base. Adam LaRoche should be back at his familiar first base. Jayson Werth won't be in right field. But Bryce Harper will.

Rarely does a first-place club experience so much significant turnover from one game to the next, but such is the unusual situation the Nationals find themselves in as they open a six-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The question now becomes how Davey Johnson chooses to arrange his new-look lineup.

If the veteran manager decides to stick with what got him here, he'll probably put Zimmerman back in the No. 3 hole and LaRoche back in the cleanup spot. But what then becomes of Harper, who debuted as the Nationals' seventh hitter but quickly ascended to the third spot while Zimmerman was on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation?

Perhaps Johnson could bump the 19-year-old down to the No. 5 position, behind Zimmerman and LaRoche. But that doesn't seem to take the most advantage of his skill-set. Harper, as we've already seen, isn't just a power hitter. He's an all-around offensive threat, just as likely to beat you with his legs as his bat.

Here's one possible solution: Have Harper bat second. Johnson is probably going to be looking for a new No. 2 hitter with Steve Lombardozzi (who capably filled in for Zimmerman at third base) returning to the bench, and with Danny Espinosa looking more comfortable farther down in the lineup after struggling in the 2-hole to open the season.

Harper as a No. 2 hitter would make sense in a lot of ways. He'd slot in nicely between Ian Desmond and Zimmerman, offering up both the ability to get on base and to drive in guys who get on in front of him. He clearly has a good eye at the plate, works the count and reaches base at a healthy clip (his OBP is .424 right now), all important qualities for a No. 2 hitter. And you probably wouldn't find too many opposing managers wanting to pitch around the kid just to take their chances with Zimmerman.

Here, then, is what tonight's potential lineup could look like...

SS Ian Desmond
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
LF Roger Bernadina
P Edwin Jackson

OK, it's not a perfect lineup by any stretch of the imagination. And the drop-off in production from the top four spots to the bottom five spots is pretty dramatic.

But given what Johnson has to work with at the moment, it might just make the most sense.

We'll find out for sure later this afternoon once the Nationals report to PNC Park.

Quick Links

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

victor-robles-7-19.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Injuries: 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

Coming Up:

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

robles_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports images

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3

ATLANTA -- Josh Donaldson's bases-loaded single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Friday night after Luke Jackson allowed a tying, two-run homer to Victor Robles in the top half.

Ronald Acuna Jr., who had three hits, led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk off Rodney (0-3) and took second on Dansby Swanson's single. Freddie Freeman walked on four pitches, loading the bases.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez brought in left fielder Juan Soto as a fifth infielder, including three on the left side against the right-handed hitting Donaldson.

Donaldson hit a 2-0 pitch over Robles to center-field warning track, and the Braves boosted their NL East lead to 6 games over the second-place Nationals. Atlanta had lost its previous five home games against Washington.

Robles' homer went 446 feet to left, giving Jackson his seventh blown save in 24 chances.

Julio Teheran gave up one hit through five scoreless innings and retired 14 consecutive hitters before pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra singled with one out in the sixth. Anthony Rendon chased Teheran with a two-out RBI single.

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin couldn't win on his 30th birthday while paired with catcher Yan Gomes, who turned 32. Corbin and Gomes became only the second pitcher-catcher tandem to start together on their birthdays since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman and catcher Jim Fanning did it against Pittsburgh on Sept. 14, 1957.

Corbin allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out Ozzie Albies with the bases loaded in the first and fanned Albies to end the fifth with two out.

Albies hit a two-out double in the fourth and scored on Austin Riley's double. Freeman was 2 for 20 in his career against Corbin before his RBI single in the fifth.

Acuna's RBI double against Tanner Rainey gave the Braves a 3-1 lead.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer, on the 10-day IL since July 10 with an injury originally announced as a mid-back strain, was given a cortisone shot on Tuesday to address inflammation in the bursa sac under his right shoulder blade. Scherzer still has some discomfort and must throw a bullpen session before cleared to pitch in a game. With Scherzer unavailable, RHP Austin Voth is expected to start in Sunday night's series finale.

Braves: RHP Patrick Weigel, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his major league debut Saturday. RHP Wes Parsons also was recalled from Gwinnett. RHPs Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint were optioned to Gwinnett.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.71) is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Braves, his former team.

Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (10-1, 2.24) will try to win his sixth straight decision on Saturday night. The 21-year-old right-hander became the youngest pitcher in franchise history to be selected an All-Star.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: