Nats Get the Win, but Still Can’t Get the Offense Going
The Nationals got an impressive 10th inning win last night, but don’t credit the offense for the victory as they managed to go just 5 for 32 in last night’s game. Last night’s game lowered the team batting average to .209 which is the worst in the league. The Nationals OBP and Slugging % aren’t much better as they rank 23rd and 29th respectively.
Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury is part of the problem, but his return alone won’t make the National’s bats go hot. Among the every day players only Wilson Ramos (and since he is a catcher he really isn’t in the lineup every day), has an average above .250. And only Danny Espinosa and Adam LaRoche (barely) have an average above the Mendoza Line, through the first 13 games of the season. Even worse than the average is the lack of walks and extra base hits, as only Ramos and Espinosa have an OPS above .700.
While it is still early in the season some of these bats need to pick up or the Nationals will collapse pretty quickly. So far their starting pitching and bullpen have kept them in games (even their defense has been better than year’s past), but their offense has just not shown up. If they just had a small increase in offensive production the Nationals could easily have another 2-3 wins right now. Here are some of my quick fixes for helping turn this offense around:
1. Play Ramos as much as possible:
I know he is a rookie and you don’t want to burn him out, but right now he is in the zone hitting the ball. given him one day off a week tops. While I’ve always liked Pudge if it is going to be problem playing Ramos, then maybe see if Ramos’ old team might want him. Mauer is on the D.L. for the Twins and they might want a veteran presence. You won’t get much back, but it is better to avoid any headaches.
2. Move Desmond to the number 2 spot:
Why is Rick Ankiel hitting 2nd?? Can anyone answer this question? Ankiel has never been an on base guy, and while he has good speed he isn’t as fast as Desmond. I think Desmond will succeed in the 2-hole and add a more potent bat at the top of the lineup. Also, there def. isn’t any reason for for Ankiel to be there against a left-handed starter, as he really shouldn’t be playing against them at all.
3. Begin to platoon Nix and Morse more:
Now I wouldn’t make it a straight platoon of Morse vs LHP and Nix vs RHP, but I would give Nix a few games a week against RHP until Morse shows he is out of his slump. This is a band-aid more than anything, but it should slightly improve the offense.
4. Highly consider bringing up Brian Bixler, or someone else to fill in for Zimmerman:
Alex Cora and Jerry Hairston Jr. simply aren’t cutting it, they have a combined 3 hits for the season, and have left a huge void in that lineup (and defensively as well). I know it is probably only two more weeks without Zimmerman, but this offense simply can’t survive that long. They are lucky to have won 3 games (2 since he went on the D.L.) without their star 3rd baseman. Bixler isn’t a great fix, but he is hitting the ball and walking down in Triple-A, and offers basically the same positional value and speed as Cora/Hairston Jr. I think it is time that they give him a shot and let him be one of their bench guys for the rest of the season.