Washington Nationals: Nats Have “Deep Depth” For Stretch Run

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PHOENIX, ARIZONA - AUGUST 02: Gerardo Parra #88 of the Washington Nationals celebrates in the dugout after Juan Soto (not pictured) hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 02, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - AUGUST 02: Gerardo Parra #88 of the Washington Nationals celebrates in the dugout after Juan Soto (not pictured) hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 02, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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Like the Earl Weaver-led Baltimore Orioles teams from 1969 through 1982, this year’s Washington Nationals team has “deep depth.”

With a veteran-laden and skilled bench crew, Nats’ skipper Dave Martinez is well equipped to take on the challenges of a pennant race, and hopefully playoff, baseball.

Assuming a return to health for Nats’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and the “born to hit” Howie Kendrick, Martinez will have a balanced and dangerous bench crew at his disposal down the stretch.

Matt Adams provides the Nats with a power-hitting left-handed bat off of the bench, as well as viable option to take over at first base on double-switches or when Zimmerman needs a break. Adams can change a game with one swing of the bat, and opposing managers will have to plan to avoid unfavorable match-ups against Big City.

Kendrick has been a strong performer in 2019, posting a 125 OPS+ that is only one off of his career-high of 126 set in his All-Star season of 2011 with the Angels. Kendrick has hit right-handers (.873 OPS) and especially left-handers (.932 OPS) well this year.  He is also among baseball’s best pinch-hitters in 2019 posting a .385 average in 26 at-bats with two doubles and a pair of home runs.

Newly acquired infielder Asdrubal Cabrera may have struggled at the plate so far this year, but the veteran switch-hitter provides pop from either side of the plate and has historically hit well (.809 OPS) in September/October over his 13 year Major League career. Cabrera also provides Martinez with versatility in the field, as he’s capable of playing all positions in the infield.

Outfielder Gerardo Parra helped inject life into a seeming lifeless Nats’ squad when he joined the club in May, and he’s done his part recently to keep the ship moving in the right direction. After starting the season slowly at the plate, Parra has heated up over the past six weeks as he’s hit .363 with 15 runs driven in over 44 at-bats since the beginning of July. The veteran also provides Martinez with a steady outfield glove as well as decent speed on the bases for possible pinch-running duty.

If Zimmerman’s health prevents him from answering the bell down the stretch, young outfielder Andrew Stevenson has shown signs of becoming a decent option for Martinez off of the bench. The speedy Stevenson can play all three outfield positions, is a good bunter and base runner and generally sees many pitches per at-bat.

Next. Nats Control Their Destiny. dark

The fortunes of the Nats in 2019 will ride heavily on their superb starting pitching staff and key offensive stalwarts such as Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, and Juan Soto, but the team’s deep, experienced and talented bench crew may be the difference between the Nats and the National League teams vying to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the league title.

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