Dusty Baker did not make any changes in personnel with the lineup that’s gone 11 for 91 (.121/.200/.231) with a double and three home runs through three games with the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS. He did, however, change the batting order, with left fielder Jayson Werth batting second and Anthony Rendon back in the sixth spot he spent the most time in during the regular season.
Trea Turner (0 for 12, 5 Ks) is still leading off, and Baker said today that he had a talk with the Washington Nationals’ 24-year-old infielder to assure him he’s obviously not the first to struggle in the postseason.
“I had a long talk with Trea this morning,” Baker said.
“Anybody that's been in the playoffs, especially a number of times, have had a tough playoff. I remember Orlando Cepeda, he was an MVP and he had an extremely tough playoff. I remember Dave Winfield had an extremely tough World Series.
“So it's not the first time that a guy has had a tough playoff. I had a tough playoff.”
It’s not just Turner struggling at the plate, of course, as noted in the numbers above, but Baker said he still decided to stick with the players who have started all three of their games thus far in the NLDS, switching the order up after facing left-handers in Games 2-3.
“This is our most successful lineup that we had, but I was kind of waiting on [Bryce Harper] to get some more reps, get some more ABs, and to get a little sharper; and that's why,” he explained.
“We had faced left-handers the first couple games, and so I shuffled and went back to our original. First time we've had that lineup in months since Harp got hurt.”
Asked about potentially trying something different with the lineup as opposed to what he decided to do, in sticking with his players, Baker said it was in part because he does value continuity.
“Continuity is important, period,” he said. “We never had a real long winning streak, but we played winning baseball.
“You know, this is the lineup that I like. This is the lineup that I, you know, have a lot of confidence in. I mean, I've got confidence in all our team, but you've got to come up with the lineup. So guys that have had more at-bats, had more reps, the law of averages are on some of our guys' side. You know, I believe in the law of averages.
“I feel very good about our chances today.”
Daniel Murphy, who’s 1 for 11 with a walk and three Ks, has hit fourth in each game and moves to the fifth spot tonight.
He offered his own thoughts on why Baker mixed things up a little bit.
“To be honest with you, right now, Jayson deserves more at-bats than I do right now.
“He's had really good at-bats, especially yesterday. So to slide him into the 2-hole, he's swinging the bat really well right now, and so it seemed like Skipper wanted to kind of get him more at-bats and slot Bryce in the 3-hole. And [Ryan Zimmerman] is swinging the bat well, as well, too.
“And I think -- not that I deserve more at-bats than [Rendon] right now, because he's swinging the bat well too and having good ABs. But I guess to stagger the lefties a little bit. We're able to go basically right, left, right, left, right, gets us to the 6-hole.
“Seems like what the Skipper wanted to do and hopefully we can go out and grind out at bats.”
Asked if he felt the need to make any adjustments personally after getting off to a rough start, Murphy said he didn’t think so.
“I said it before, you just try to get a good pitch to hit and hit it hard,” he explained.
“I haven't been doing either, so hopefully I can change that today and be able to get some traffic going in front of me and be able to cash in on that.
“My hat's off to the Cubs’ pitchers who are throwing the ball really well. I've probably gotten some pitches to hit that I've missed personally but continue to grind out at-bats. The beauty of the Postseason is -- that I feel like Bryce showed us, and even Anthony yesterday, and Zimm -- is just one swing, it's such a small sample size, that one swing whether it be 0 for 3, 0 or 8, whatever it may be, not feeling good in there, you get one opportunity, and if you can cash in on it, it's kind of magnified in the Postseason.”