"I do like Bryce [Harper] leading off," Davey Johnson told reporters after last night's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers when the Washington Nationals' 70-year-old skipper was asked if the lineup would change for the second game of three with L.A. in D.C.
Before the All-Star Break, the Nationals' manager unveiled a new lineup he said he'd been thinking about going with in the so-called "second-half" that featured 23-year-old rookie Anthony Rendon batting second with Harper leading off. Adam LaRoche sat with flu-like symptoms last night, however, so Harper hit fourth and went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. But Johnson said he likes having his 20-year-old slugger at the top of the order.
"I think that frees him up," Johnson explained, "He's usually on base. But, maybe we'll break out against a couple of pretty good pitchers, maybe that's what we need." The challenge of good pitching sparking the Nats' offense? Could work, I guess...
Granted, Zack Greinke, tonight's starter for the visiting Dodgers is (3-0) in three career starts against the Nationals with 2 HRs (0.93 HR/9), 1 BB (0.47 BB/9), 19 Ks (8.84 K/9) and a 0.72 WHIP in 19 1/3 IP against the franchise and Sunday's starter for LA, Clayton Kershaw, is (4-2) against the Nats in his career with one of those wins earlier this season when he went 8 2/3 against the Nationals in Dodger Stadium, striking out 11 while allowing just one walk and five hits.
Harper was expected to lead off against Greinke tonight, but as Davey Johnson noted, that was if the Nats' first baseman returned. "If I've got LaRoche healthy," Johnson said. He apparently does not. Chad Tracy's in at first again tonight with LaRoche sitting and Denard Span's leading off with Harper hitting cleanup again...
• Here's the lineup for tonight's game w/ the Dodgers:
#Nationals lineup vs. LA: Span 8, Rendon 4, Zimmerman 5, Harper 7, Werth 9, Desmond 6, Tracy 3, Ramos 2, Gonzalez 1.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) July 20, 2013