Washington’s offense has a combined .228/.306/.382 line against left-handers so far this season, which has them ranked 25th/22nd/24th among MLB teams heading into today’s series finale with the Tampa Bay Rays in Nationals Park.
Davey Martinez’s Nationals will face Rays’ lefty Jonny Venters in the second game of two in the nation’s capital, at least at the start.
The veteran hurler, who returned to the majors this season after a six-year absence, and has had three Tommy John surgeries, will be making his first MLB start, though he’ll be tasked with getting through just an inning or two according to what Rays’ skipper Kevin Cash told reporters, including Tampa Bay Times’ writer Marc Topkin, who also noted that Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said he, “felt confident in their hitters and wouldn’t adjust to the Rays plans,” knowing that they’ll likely face a parade of arms as the Rays try to piece one together.
Topkin suggested that rookie lefty Ryan Yarbrough was expected to do the bulk of the work this afternoon.
Yarbrough has held lefties to a .192/.276/.451 line and righties to a .220/.287/.333 line over 53 1⁄3 IP this season, making 13 total appearances and three starts thus far.
Though they beat the Rays last night, the Nationals connected for just four hits, not exactly the offensive breakout they were looking for after struggling to score runs as they dropped three of four to the Braves this past weekend in Atlanta.
Will a string of relievers help, or will all the different looks cause the Nationals’ hitters more problems. They faced a similar situation when Los Angeles Dodgers’ lefty Rick Hill was out in the first at bat in his planned start back on May 19th.
“It’s not easy,” Martinez explained after that game, “but these guys have faced those guys quite a bit, so it’s a game of adjustments, and you’ve got to adjust.”
They’ve seen a lot more of the Dodgers’ arms than they have seen the Rays’ pitchers, so it will probably be a little more difficult. How will Martinez line the Nationals up for the task?