Nationals: Evaluating Dusty Baker’s Lineup Changes

Jul 21, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Trea Turner (7) at bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 21, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Trea Turner (7) at bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Dusty Baker’s experimental lineup in the Nationals two game inter league series versus the Cleveland Indians certainly produced a leadoff hitter for the stretch.

During the Washington Nationals two game series against the Cleveland Indians, manager Dusty Baker made some changes to help jump start a lineup that got Ryan Zimmerman off the disabled list. They got success from their new leadoff hitter, Trea Turner, which sparked them to one win in the two games.

Turner’s speed will present an abundance of problems for both the National League East and for the rest of the NL. During this series, he made turning a double play against him look anything but routine.

Mike Napoli was smothered by Turner’s speed in a chopper back to the first baseman. The blazing “Project” centerfielder beat the play out with Napoli in such a rush, it seemed he forgot the ball.

During the mini series, Turner had four hits, three RBI’s, one run scored, one stolen base, and one walk. In game two yesterday, Turner went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI’s in the win.

Bryce Harper moved up to second in the order. Harper hit the ball well in game one, but he continues to pull further away from the MVP form. Harper struck twice in game two and his batting average has slipped to .237 during the skid.

Daniel Murphy batted third, but it doesn’t matter where this guy bats. Murphy tallied three hits and hit a home run with two RBI’s in the series He seems to be on another planet right now. When the team needs a boost, Murphy seems to be Johnny on-the-spot as he continues to maintain a blistering .353 batting average.

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Wilson Ramos took the cleanup spot for the series. The Buffalo went yard once in game one along with a double. The Nationals All-Star catcher will head to San Francisco batting .339 for the season. Everyone knew the talent was there. He has truly bloomed into an elite catcher.

Jayson Werth enjoyed the role of designated hitter while visiting Progressive Field. The DH role is one that seems to fit him very well at this stage of his career. Werth managed to string together a couple of hits while knocking in one and scoring a run of his own over the two games.

Anthony Rendon joined the home run parade during game one when he was hitting sixth spot of the order. Rendon had two hits to go along with two RBI’s and two runs scored in Tuesday’s loss.

Zimmerman joined the team in Cleveland coming off of the disabled list while returning to first base. He looked as though any rust may have been shook off in game two, when he scored twice for the Nationals.

This brings us to the bottom of the order. Danny Espinosa is probably hating that the All-Star Game ever took place. Espinosa was arguably the hottest hitter in baseball prior to the break. Since the break he has been near the bottom.

During the series, the Nationals shortstop failed to get a hit while striking out four times. Of those four strikeouts, three of them occurred in game 2. Espinosa’s batting average is now at .222 after this series

Ben Revere could have very well played his way onto the bench. His role may be the rover outfielder, which will provide days off for Harper, Werth and now Turner down the stretch. Revere only had one hit during the series and saw his average drop down to a dismal .214 on the season. But, he helped keep the Nationals second inning going yesterday by drawing a 12-pitch walk.

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The Nationals new look lineup had a very good vibe to it and Turner definitely provided a huge spark. If Harper can get back o track, this particular order could be deadly. There is no doubt Zimmerman will produce in some fashion and Espinosa will have his streaks of success along with the addition of his power.

It’s unclear if Baker will stick to this order or if Turner will be the everyday center fielder. However, Turner looked great and the team scored 10 runs and 15 hits over just 2 games with the above 1-9. Plus, it came against two of the better pitchers in the American League (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco). It will be interesting to see the card once the Nationals begin their series against the Giants tonight.