Jun 19, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span (2) is congratulated by right fielder Clint Robinson (25) after scoring a run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no question that Bryce Harper has been the catalyst to this offense. He’s far and away the team’s greatest power threat. With him out of the lineup, it’s hard to say who, if anyone, really possesses the ability to strike fear into the heart of opposing pitchers. After Harper’s 22 home runs, Danny Espinosa is the next closest with 8. The Nats lineup isn’t exactly Murderers’ Row.
Which is likely why Matt Williams decided to try something new. As soon as Denard Span was on base in the first, the team was looking to force the issue. Span was moving early on Rendon’s single, allowing him to get to third with ease. With Escobar at the plate, Rendon took off to second on what looked to be a hit-and-run. It didn’t work to perfection, but it kept the Nats out of the double play, and Rendon would then come around to score on Ramos‘ double.
This is the type of strategy Williams will have to rely on more should Harper miss extended time. If Denard Span can find his Old Man Speed to go with his Old Man Power, it could go a long way in allowing the Nationals to keep the pressure on opposing pitchers and defenses, something they’ll need to replace the power they’ve lost.
While it’s true that four runs isn’t exactly an offensive onslaught, the fact that Washington piled up 14 hits on the night is encouraging after the two they managed just the other night. Even better is the fact that every one of the Nationals starters (Ross included) picked up at least one hit.
Next: Joe Ross' Place in the Rotation