Are the Washington Nationals playing with a three man bench right now? Was Juan Soto rushed back to the active roster too soon? The answer to both of those questions is yes, with the second one being a resounding, yes.
Why would Juan Soto be reinstated from the Injured List just to sit on the bench? The Nationals would have been better off leaving him there until he was healthy.
Would you rather have Soto batting with two on and one out, or leading off an inning? This was one situation where the Nationals backed themselves into a corner. The Nationals didn’t deserve to win this game. Though in a 162 game season, a team should pull out a few wins in games should shouldn’t. This was the Nationals chance. They squandered it.
The Nationals should not have reinstated Juan Soto from the Injured List if he can’t play the field.
After scratching to within two runs, the Nationals put runners on second and third, with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Yan Gomes, who had homered earlier in the game, struck out swinging. The 97th time in the past five games the Nationals have failed to score a runner from third base with less than two outs (okay, just feels like 97 times).
Kyle Schwarber strolled to the plate. Conceivably, the Nationals could have pinch hit here. Schwarbes is hitting .181 on the year. However, he does have a flare for the dramatic so he was allowed to hit, and he walked.
Victor Robles strolled to the plate. Robles is hitting .224 and has one RBI on the year. Only two players have struck out more than Vic this season (Schwarber being one of them). Bases loaded, two out, down by two, and Vic comes out swinging. Braves pitcher A.J. Minter had thrown 22 pitches to that point and two of the three hitters he’d faced had reached base. And Vic comes out swinging. He popped out on the first pitch.
The Nationals were already down Yadiel Hernandez, who pinch hit earlier in the game. Alex Avila, as the backup catcher, isn’t entering at this point. Andrew Stevenson had already entered the game as part of a double switch in the top half of the inning. And, apparently, Juan Soto can’t play the field.
Were Hernan Perez still on the roster (don’t get me wrong, he needed to be designated for assignment, though not until Soto was ready to play everyday) he could have played the outfield. Josh Bell could have pinch hit for Robles. Then Perez could have entered the game. Does it put the best team on the field, no. However, Starlin Castro was hitting cleanup in this game, so one is guessing it is a free-for-all from the time the lineup cards were exchanged.
Juan Soto needs to get back into the lineup, though that requires him being able to play the outfield as well.