Washington Nationals: Daniel Murphy Not Getting Much Playing Time For Team USA

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Mar 5, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy (20) throws the ball to first base for an out against the Minnesota Twins at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy (20) throws the ball to first base for an out against the Minnesota Twins at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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After playing only one game for Team USA in the first round, should Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy get more playing time?

Tonight, Team USA will play their first game of the second round of the World Baseball Classic against Venezuela at PETCO Park (9 p.m ET, MLB Network). Both Washington Nationals that are on Team USA are still on the roster with starter Tanner Roark scheduled to pitch a tiebreaker game (if necessary) and second baseman Daniel Murphy.

So far, Murphy hasn’t gotten much playing time for Team USA. The NL MVP runner up from a year ago only started one game as the designated hitter in the first round. In the USA’s 3-2 ten inning win over Colombia, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

In the final two games of round one, Murphy didn’t see the field. Manager Jim Leyland decided to play Ian Kinsler all three games at second base and use Paul Goldschmidt as the DH and Eric Hosmer at first base for the other two games.

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Now, I understand that Leyland’s goal is to get everybody as much playing time as possible. However, it’s tough to understand why Murphy only gets one game out of the three and a lot of Nats fans have been puzzled by that decision as well.

Murphy had good numbers against the Dominican Republic’s starter last Saturday in Edinson Volquez (8-for-18, two doubles, three RBI’s), but he was not in the lineup.

Right now, you could make the case that if Murphy isn’t playing in these WBC games, it’s actually hurting the Washington Nationals.

For one, it makes him rusty because he isn’t getting the swings he would get in spring training. Also, he isn’t getting the reps with Trea Turner at shortstop to help improve the chemistry with the double play combination

Team USA has a tough task ahead of them in Pool F and it starts tonight when they face Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Hernandez only went 2.2 innings in a loss to Puerto Rico on Friday, but it would be surprising to see him have back-to-back bad starts.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Leyland sat Murphy again tonight because he’s never faced Hernandez in his career. With the decision to start Alex Bregman as the shortstop, it also wouldn’t be a surprise if San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford was the DH because of the way he’s swinging the bat (5-for-11, three doubles, two RBI’s).

If Murphy doesn’t start tonight, you would have to think he starts the next two games against Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico’s starter Friday night is Seth Lugo, who Murphy saw last year with the Nats. He’s one of the players on Team USA who has actually faced the New York Mets right-hander.

As for Saturday night, the Dominican Republic is scheduled to go with Ervin Santana on his mound. Murphy has experience against him from Santana’s time with the Atlanta Braves. He is 5-for-15 against him with a couple of doubles and a RBI in his career.

While Murphy isn’t facing Padres pitchers in this round, he has a good track record at PETCO Park. In 19 games, he has a .303 average with three home runs and 11 RBI’s. Seven of those RBI’s have come in the last two seasons (according to Baseball Reference).

Yes, Murphy had a bad first game in the WBC. But, if he gets the playing time, he has the chance to play a big part in helping Team USA somehow get out of this talented pool and make the semifinals next week at Dodger Stadium.

Next: Zimmerman's Troubles Are Worrisome

As a reminder, we will be live tweeting Team USA’s games throughout the World Baseball Classic, so follow along with us throughout the event.

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