When the Washington Nationals’ lineup was released earlier this afternoon, it had Asdrúbal Cabrera’s name listed, with the veteran infielder starting at second base for the fifth time in the Nats’ first 12 postseason games.
Why go with Cabrera over Howie Kendrick at second base tonight?
Cabrera started at second base while Kendrick served as the DH in each of the first two games of the World Series in Minute Maid Park, but with Games 3-5 in D.C. being played under NL rules, the manager decided to stick with Cabrera.
Cabrera is 16 for 37 (.432/.512/.568), with three doubles, a triple, six walks, and two Ks against Houston Astros’ starter Zack Greinke, in their respective careers, while Howie Kendrick is 5 for 20 vs Greinke.
“Asdrúbal has history with Greinke,” he explained in his pregame press conference today in the nation’s capital.
“Numbers-wise I like that and also, too, analytically. I saw a lot more ground balls in Howie against Greinke. I saw some better opportunities with Cabrera hitting the ball up in the air.
“I like that.”
A total of 41 of Cabrera’s 44 plate appearances against Greinke came between 2007-2012, and the switch hitter’s other three took place in 2018.
Greinke held right-handed hitters to a .235/.262/.378 line in the regular season, but also held left-handed hitters to a .221/.257/.349 line.
Kendrick crushed lefties this season (.376/.421/.615), and he was pretty good against right-handers as well (.327/.381/.548). Cabrera had a .258/.337/.452 from the left side this year.
Cabrera, 33, is 4 for 18 (.222/.211/.222) so far in the postseason, in seven games total, four of them starts, while Kendrick, who was named the NLCS MVP, is 13 for 47 (.277/.320/.426) in a total of 12 games, with four doubles and a home run so far in October.
“You look at the at-bats,” Martinez said, returning to Cabrera’s numbers against the Astros’ starter.
“It’s not something where he’s just 2-for-5 or -- he’s had a lot of at-bats against him.
“Like I said, I kind of like the left-handed at-bat in the lineup to start off. The other thing is... having Howie off the bench ain’t a bad thing, neither.”
As a pinch hitter this season, Kendrick went 13 for 36 (.361/.415/.611) with three doubles, two home runs, and four walks.
Where are you on this one? Is Martinez putting too much weight on years-old stats? Is there something going on with Kendrick that they’re avoiding sharing? Thoughts?