Will it be one of the Washington Nationals’ veterans that steps up tonight in Game 5 of the NLDS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Before the start of Game 4, Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker talked about what he was getting from two of the elder statesmen in the Nats’ lineup.
Ryan Zimmerman went 5 for 11 with a double, walk and two driven in over the first three games, and Baker, who’s been waiting for the first baseman to get it going on offense all season, liked what he saw.
“I'm loving what Ryan is doing,” he told reporters. “I think he's going to get even better the longer we go in the playoffs. He's feeling good about himself. He's been waiting on this moment to feel good and we've been waiting on it.”
Baker has shown a lot of patience with the 31-year-old third-turned-first baseman, who struggled at the plate all season, putting up a .218/.272/.370 line with 18 doubles and 15 home runs in 115 games and 467 plate appearances, over which he was worth a career-worst -1.3 fWAR.
Baker said he thought all along that Zimmerman would find it eventually.
“I was confident that this moment would come where everybody wanted me to kind of sit him down, but you can't get it by sitting down. You can only get it by playing.
“Fortunately, for us, we had enough lead where we could wait on him to this point. I think his experience is going to help big time, especially his demeanor, if nothing else, because you really can't tell when this guy's shaken. You can't tell when he's down. You really can't tell when he's happy. He's probably the most consistent-personality guy that I've been around in a while.”
Zimmerman went 0 for 4 with two Ks in Game 4 of the NLDS with the Dodgers, leaving him 5 for 15 (.333/.412/.400) with a double, two walks and three Ks in the first four games of the third postseason run of his 12-year major league career.
Baker talked about Jayson Werth too, who has hit in all four games so far, going 7 for 15 (.467/.556/.800) with two doubles, a home run, two walks and six Ks.
Werth talked after he went 3 for 4 with a double and a home run in Game 3 about embracing his role in the lineup.
“I'm trying to have good at bats,” Werth said. “Ever since Dusty moved me into the 2-hole, I just felt like my job is to get on base for the animals behind me. I'm just focused on getting on base and scoring runs and having good at-bats and making the pitcher work. That's pretty much been my game my whole career, even before I started playing professionally. Just trying to be me.”
Baker was asked what it was about Werth that allowed him to remain so relaxed even in tense situations in the regular season and postseason.
“I don't know if it has anything to do with anything other than really how you are as a person,” Baker said.
“I mean, I know some guys that have been there 15 times and they are just as rattled as a guy that's been there the first time. I think it has a lot to do with their personality and your confidence level that you may have, and the fact that you have done it before.
Will Werth or Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, who came up with a big game-tying hit in Game 4, Bryce Harper or another of the Nationals’ young stars like Trea Turner be the one that comes up big tonight? It’s hero time in the nation’s capital. Who’s going to step up?