• UPDATE: 4:59 PM EDT: Apparently Jayson Werth has been scratched:
Updated #Nationals lineup: Harper 8, Desmond 6, Zimmerman 5, Ramos 2, LaRoche 3, Rendon 4, Lombardozzi 7, Hairston 9, Strasburg 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) August 5, 2013
• 4:15 PM EDT:
Denard Span had a good month of July, posting a .289/.349/.402 line that's more like what the Washington Nationals expected when they acquired the left-handed hitting "ballhawk" of a defender from the Minnesota Twins this past winter. On the year, however, he's struggled against left-handers, posting a .151/.211/.179 line against left-handed pitchers, down from .301/.374/.365 in 2012 and even down from 2011 when he had a .240/.337/.320 season against southpaws while dealing with concussion-related symptoms which limited him to just 70 games and 311 plate appearances.
In his career, the 29-year-old, six-year MLB veteran has a .275/.355/.370 line vs lefties and if he were anywhere near that this season, he might be in the lineup tonight, but since he's struggled against LHPs, he's sitting tonight as the Nats take on the Atlanta Braves and left-handed starter Mike Minor, who's held fellow left-handers to a .198/.244/.302 line so far in 2013.
Bryce Harper (who has a .169/.261/.286 line against LHPs) is leading off and playing center with Span sitting and Adam LaRoche is still in the lineup in spite of his .172/.228/.301 line vs left-handers. Ian Desmond is back in the two-hole and surely FBB readers will be happy to see Wilson Ramos bumped up a bit to sixth in the lineup tonight. Since returning from the DL on July 4th, the 25-year-old backstop has put up a .310/.338/.563 line with three doubles and five home runs in 20 games and 74 plate appearances. Ramos was 3 for 8 with a home run in the Nats' series in Milwaukee this weekend.
Ramos will be behind the plate tonight catching Stephen Strasburg, who is (4-4) with a 1.68 ERA in Nationals Park this season, holding opposing hitters who visit the nation's capital to a .197/.250/.279 line over 290 plate appearances at home in 2013. Strasburg's (0-1) in three starts against the Braves so far this year, in spite of the fact that he's put up a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings on the mound vs Atlanta in 2013. In those three starts, he's received six runs of support total in 3-1 and 3-2 losses and a 3-2 win.
Here's the lineup that will take the field behind Stephen Strasburg tonight in D.C. for the first game of three with the NL East's first place Braves:
#Nationals lineup vs. ATL: Harper 8, Desmond 6, Zimmerman 5, Werth 9, LaRoche 3, Ramos 2, Rendon 4, Hairston 7, Strasburg 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) August 5, 2013