A lot has been said about Michael Morse‘s nagging injuries this season. After missing action until June after an injury sustained in Spring Training, Morse was out of the lineup just two games prior with hand and wrist injuries but yesterday had a great game hitting two big homeruns to give the Nationals and Gio Gonzalez enough run support to get the win.
Morse is a bat in the second half of the order that they need to pick it up as the playoffs approach. Morse had struggled in August and September prior to yesterday’s game so it was big to have him get that game out of the way and show that he is still the big bat the Nationals need. Along with Ian Desmond, the Nationals have power in the second half of the order. Desmond leads all National League shortstops in homeruns with 25.
A lot of Morse’s bad August was due to a low BAIBP which can be associated with a lack of power. The less hard the ball comes off the bat, the easier it will be to turn into outs. That seems to have picked up a little bit, helped of course from him doubling his September homerun total. Morse only had two homeruns in his last 22 games so the power was a concern.
With Morse hitting the ball hard, it evens out the order a little bit and takes a lot of pressure off of the top of the order. Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche were probably fine on their own anyways, but having Morse as a power threat obviously helps. In the playoffs, you need as many of your players performing at their top level in order to succeed. As the Nationals try to claim the division crown, it becomes even more important as the team heads to St. Louis to face a Cardinals team that is on its way to a second-straight Wild Card berth setting up, ironically, a one-game showdown with the team they ousted from the playoffs last season in Atlanta.
This offense hasn’t relied on Morse this season, and had all of its players hit hot and cold streaks throughout the season. If one of the key cogs can alleviate any injury concerns heading into the postseason, that is one less problem for the Nationals to worry about, and having a healthy Morse will even affect some offseason decisions the team has to make. For now, though, they will be happy with another power bat.