Daniel Murphy missed 63 games recovering from offseason knee surgery, but Washington’s Nationals reinstated the 33-year-old infielder this morning, optioning Adrian Sanchez to the Nats’ top minor league affiliate to make room on the roster for Murphy’s return. He joins the Nationals in time for the start of this week’s five-game road trip to New York and Toronto.
With Murphy rehabbing and working his way back, Davey Martinez’s Nationals have gone 36-27 overall, 15-16 at home after dropping two of three to the San Francisco Giants this weekend, and 21-11 outside D.C. so far in 2018.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s The Sports Junkies this week that the fact that the Nationals were as close to the top of the division as they were at that point, (and they lead the NL East now), was an impressive accomplishment, though he doesn’t watch the scoreboard or check the standings this early in the season.
“I don’t scoreboard watch, per se,” Rizzo explained. “I really bear down on what we see with our ballclub, and we gloss over it, and we don’t talk about it because there’s nothing we can do about it, and there’s no excuses ... but you’re missing Ryan Zimmerman who was a [3.3] WAR player last year, [Daniel] Murphy, [Adam] Eaton, those are big chunks of your lineup that haven’t played for us much this year and it’s just gratifying that you’ve got a guy like a [Mark] Reynolds and [Matt] Adams that take over at first, and a [Wilmer] Difo that’s capable of taking over at second and so on and so forth.
“It really is an organizational success right now, where we’re at. The process has worked.
“And we’re proud of the youth and the exuberance that these young players bring to the big league roster.”
The veterans are starting to trickle back in, however, with Eaton coming back this weekend, and now Murphy back in the big leagues.
Martinez, who’s plugged players in where necessary, and won with the mix of veterans and youngsters he’s had available, will have to figure out how to keep everyone fresh as each of the expected everyday regulars return.
“We’ve got ourselves a team that we’re managing to win games,” Rizzo continued.
“Our strength has always been pitching, defense, and athleticism, and I think that’s on full display right now with our starting rotation [which] I think is one of the best in the league and our bullpen has pitched — over the last two months — one of the best in the league, and we’ve got great defense up the middle and I think you see us, we’re winning baseball games in different manners, sometimes we slug, sometimes we create runs, and sometimes we save runs, and I think that’s a good way for a well-rounded team to play, and then you think that once you get your big boys back the lineup will start clicking and you’ll hit on all cylinders.”
The rotation has taken some hits since he said that, of course, with Jeremy Hellickson on the Disabled List with a hamstring injury, and Stephen Strasburg DL’d with right shoulder inflammation, but they got their second baseman (DH) back today.