An 11 for 27 (.407/.448/.778) run over the last two weeks has taken Washington Nationals’ bench bat Matt Adams from a .185/.353/.481 line to .296/.397/.630 after a three-hit, two home run game against the Pittsburgh Pirates last night in the nation’s capital.
Adams, 29, signed a 1-year/$4M free agent deal with the Nats this winter, providing the defending, back-to-back, NL East champions with a power bat off the bench and a legit backup at first base, who can also play left field... if necessary.
Davey Martinez told reporters after last night’s win that he knew what he was getting with Adams, and it’s a luxury to have a player like him coming off the bench.
“We always knew he could hit right-handed pitching,” Martinez explained.
“I said since we got him, he’s an everyday player, we’re fortunate to have him. We’ll try to find him as much playing time as we can, but he hits righties really well.”
Adams is 0 for 5 in limited at bats vs left-handers this year, and 16 for 49 vs righties, with a .327/.421/.694 line vs right-handed pitching in 2018, and a .287/.336/.501 line now vs right-handed pitching in his career, vs .203/.235/.352 vs lefties.
Max Scherzer, against whom Adams was 3 for 9 with two doubles before he signed on in D.C., knows what a tough a matchup the left-handed hitter can be for opposing pitchers.
“I know the type of at bats he brings,” Scherzer said after Adams and the Nationals provided him plenty of run of support in last night’s 12-4 win.
“Facing him, he’s a tough out, and he’s a great low-ball hitter,” Scherzer continued, “... and when he gets pitches to hit he can extend on anybody, and that’s what happened. So, he’s an important piece to our puzzle, and when he starts and he gets ABs, he can really do some damage at the plate.”
In the 12 games he’s started over the first month-plus of the season, Adams has gone 15 for 46 (.326/.404/.717) with three doubles and five home runs in 52 plate appearances. He’s 1 for 11 with three walks and two Ks as a pinch hitter so far.
As Adams said last night, he’s happy to contribute wherever he’s needed.
“I’m happy with whatever role they want me to do, and that’s kind of the way I’ve been from day one up here,” he told reporters.
“This team is capable of a lot of stuff, so for them to think that I can have a role in it, that means a lot to me, so I want to go out there every day and give it my best out there.”
Predominantly a first baseman with St. Louis and Atlanta, Adams has started seven games in left field this season, and 26 games in left over his career now, and he said he’s getting more comfortable out there with each start.
“It’s still new,” he acknowledged, “... but I think each time out there — I was talking to [first base coach Tim Bogar] and [third base/outfield Bob Henley] about it today.
“The drills that I’m doing with Hen and just getting out there and seeing balls off the bat, it kind of gives me a comfort level, and each time out there it’s been better and better.”
He’s also comfortable at the plate right now, and after he hit the second of his two homers last night to left-center field, Adams said it’s a good sign he’s locked in at the plate, seeing pitches well.
“I think it’s just telling me that I’m connected,” Adams said. “I’m not trying to do too much with it, I’m seeing the ball where it’s pitched, and I’m putting a good swing on it, and that feels good, because everyone thinks I’m just a pull hitter, so for me to be going this good and seeing the ball good and barreling balls up to left-center, it feels pretty good.”