We’ve quoted GM Mike Rizzo in numerous articles discussing the possibility of bringing the Designated Hitter to the National League. And while he might understand and agree with a DH in the NL in this shortened, 60-game MLB season, Rizzo is on record from 2015 when he told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Grant Paulsen “I hate the DH. I always have hated the DH. I’d hate to see the DH in the National League.”
But there’s going to be a DH in the NL in 2020, so I guess we’ll all have to get used to it for the next 2-3 months at least, and just about everyone believes it will be added to the NL in the next collective bargaining agreement. That doesn’t mean we have to pretend to like it.
They are playing baseball in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, however, and there are a bunch of things we’re not going to like but will accept as long as everyone stays healthy.
Davey Martinez’s take on having the DH in the NL this season?
“It will be weird,” Martinez said, though he’s played both kinds of baseball, and enjoyed the advantages having a DH during the Nationals’ World Series win last October.
“I mean, I’ve played on both obviously,” the manager told reporters during Spring Training 2.0.
“National and American League. I had DHs, I had pitchers hitting, I actually hit in front of pitchers for a lot of years.
“So it might take away a little bit of the game, but then again, you add an extra hitter, and like I said, we’re in uncharted waters right now.
“I know I’ve got some pitchers, I always thought we had an advantage because our pitchers can hit a little bit, so that advantage is gone.”
Having a designated hitter certainly won’t hurt the Nationals’ offense though, and Martinez said he likes the possibilities on his roster when it comes to filling the role.
“I think our team is built to have a DH, which is kind of nice,” he explained. “But it’s definitely going to be different, the strategy will be a little for me, because you don’t have to make those double switches and make those kind of moves of that nature. But it’s still going to be baseball.
“I think you’re going to see a little more hitting throughout baseball because you do get an extra hitter and get the DH. But we’ll see what happens. I’m a big fan of the National League and I like the whole strategic part of the game.”
What do the pitchers think?
“I mean, I’m not that great a hitter,” Austin Voth said earlier this month.
“I’m going to be honest, so for me it’s like, I don’t have to punch out every time I go out there.”
Adjusting to an extra bat in the lineup won’t be that big a deal for pitchers, who’ve been dealing with it Interleague play for years now.
“You’re going to have a DH in there rather than a pitcher, so that’s going to make going through the lineup and flipping that lineup over a little bit harder,” Voth said.
“I faced probably 2 or 3 AL teams last year, and I kind of got used to that a little bit. It’s something you’ve got to get used to. You’re not going to be throwing against a pitcher anymore.
“You’ve got to prepare for every single guy in the lineup, because they’re going to have power or they’re going to have speed or they’re going to be a real hitter.”
The Nationals will have a real hitter in that role too, of course, and Martinez has been giving some thought as to which players he’ll use.
“We’ve got three or four guys that can actually DH for us,” the skipper said.
“We might keep a third catcher, and that puts [Kurt] Suzuki, when he doesn’t catch, in the mix to maybe DH as well.
“We’ll see how this all works out, but I think we’re going to be fine in that DH role.”
Stephen Strasburg, who has a Silver Slugger award in his past, said that he understands the thinking in using the DH in both leagues this year.
“It’s understandable and I think that really benefits our ballclub,” the 2019 World Series MVP said.
“It doesn’t change anything as far as how you treat each hitter, it’s just another one you’ve got to focus on.
“I would say that’s probably something Davey has got to consider in how he manages the bullpen and manages the game, but again, that’s on his plate, not mine.”
And Howie Kendrick, the veteran, professional hitter, who was the Nationals’ DH in Game 7 of the World Series last October, when he, like, you know, bounced one off the pole in right to put the club up for good? What does Howie think of the DH in the NL all season?
“I don’t mind it,” Kendrick said. “I think it’s been a long time coming. Hopefully it continues into next year as well. I think for a lot of guys, it opens up opportunities as well, gives some guys days off but at the same time, when I was younger I really didn’t like DHing at all, and now as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned how to deal with it and stay in sync with the game and I think it will be good for a lot of guys around the league.”
Man, who’s going to argue with Howie? Forget it, enjoy your four-hour, high-scoring, AL-style games, Mr. Kendrick.