NOTE: Tonight’s game starts at 6:05 PM EDT.
Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez opted to go with Ryan Zimmerman at first last night, in spite of the fact that there was a right-hander on the mound and a left-hand option at first on his roster.
He was asked before the series opener with the Miami Marlins how he made that decision, and how he plans to handle the first base situation going forward, now that Zimmerman is back in the mix with Matt Adams and Howie Kendrick, who handled the position when Zim was out a total of 55 games dealing with plantar fasciitis.
“I like the matchup with Zim,” Martinez said, “and let’s be clear, you know, if Zim is healthy, he’s our first baseman. With that being said, I know Howie is doing well, I know Adams is doing well, they’re going to get plenty of playing time. I like the fact, and for me, this is a great problem to have: when Zim does play, Matty is on the bench ready to go and we can plop him in in any situation at any time, knock in some big runs, same thing with Howie.”
An opportunity that arose in the eighth, when the Nationals loaded the bases with two out in a 2-2 game against right-hander Nick Anderson, seemed like a spot where Adams might fit as a pinch hitter, but Martinez did not go to his left-hand bat, sticking with Zimmerman, who grounded out to short for the third out of the inning.
Did he consider going to Adams, who has reverse splits this season (.236/.269/.520 vs RHPs and .267/.290/.533 vs LHPs in 2019) though he has a career .276/.326/.496 line vs RHPs and a .212/.242/.371 line vs LHPs, with most of his power (six of eight doubles, 10 of 12 HRs) this year against right-handers?
Anderson also has reverse splits (.257/.317/.405 line against vs RHB; .210/.300/.371 vs LHB) this season, so was that a factor in his decision-making?
“Absolutely,” Martinez said, “... and then you think about it, in that situation, how tough is it to pinch hit for somebody that has 999 RBIs?
“I believe that he was the right guy at the right spot.”
It didn’t go the Nationals’ or Zimmerman’s way in that spot, though they did go on to win the game on a walk-off RBI double by Trea Turner in the ninth, but the presence of Zim in the lineup is going to make for some tough decisions when Martinez fills out a lineup card in the coming weeks and months.
“I monitor all these guys,” he said, “and especially now with Zim coming back, we had a long conversation with him as well about not going out there and playing every day, and just easing his way back and making sure he stays healthy for the remainder of the year.”
Tonight, Martinez apparently decided to go with Adams against right-hander Sandy Alcantara, against whom the slugger was 1 for 3 with a home run last week in Miami.