Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Nats Offense Breaks Out To Gain Series Split

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Aug 6, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) is congratulated by Jayson Werth (right) after hitting a solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals Line Up Produces, But Needs Tweaking

Ian Desmond had Wednesday night’s game off. Yesterday, he went 2-for-5 with a walk at the plate. His two hits were a solo home run and a double. The day off may have done Desmond some good. Either he got some much needed rest or he was determined to not let Danny Espinosa take his job without a fight. The hitting conditions could have helped Ian because it was overcast at game time. There was no sun and no shadows. Ian’s day/night splits aren’t that different, but he does hit slightly better at night.

Bryce Harper was on-base all five times he came to the plate: three walks and two singles. Anthony Rendon was 1-for-3 with two walks. Wilson Ramos had a good day at the plate with two hits and two RBI’s. Michael Taylor had an RBI and Clint Robinson hit a three run homer, redeeming his previous 0-for=4. Ryan Zimmerman had a pinch hit double and an RBI that made the game 5-3 after Janssen’s terrible outing, which gave the bullpen a little more breathing room.

Yunel Escobar went 0-for-4, but that was not surprising after he fouled a ball off his own foot during an at-bat in the third inning. He was then was hit in the arm by a pitch during the same at bat. He was limping on the field after that and was clearly not 100%. Ross, the pitcher, went 0-for-2, but that was not surprising.

The batter in the lineup that didn’t produce today was Jayson Werth. He went 0-for-5. He made the last out when the Nationals had the bases loaded in the bottom of the third on a ground out. He attempted a head first slide into first base to try to get on and was called safe by the umpire. He clearly was out and Arizona won the challenge of the call. Inning over.

Werth was batting fifth in the order. He is hitting .193 after today’s game. Any other player hitting like that would not be in the five hole. Desmond, who has struggled this year, has mostly been hitting in the six through eight spots in the order. Michael Taylor was in the eight hole, even though his batting average is .243, which is higher than Werth’s.

Taylor has the second highest batting average in Major League Baseball with runners in scoring position. He’s hitting .402 with RISP. Only Buster Posey, hitting .403 with RISP, is better than Taylor this season.

The point is Werth should not be hitting in the five spot in the lineup until he gets his timing back and starts hitting well. Until he does, he needs to be hitting in the eight hole, which would move Taylor up in the order. Werth is killing this team by  hitting in the five spot. As much as Harper gets on base via hits or walks, the four and five hole hitters have to be able to drive in runs. Ryan Zimmerman is doing so from the four hole. Werth is not.

If Drew Storen has to adjust to no longer being the closer on this team despite his successes, then Werth needs to adjust to hitting eighth until he starts batting well enough to justify moving him up in the order.

Next: Fister To The Bullpen