It is not the end of the Victor Robles as leadoff hitter era, Davey Martinez explained, but the Washington Nationals’ skipper did switch things up at the top for the finale of their three-game series in St. Louis, batting Trea Turner first and Juan Soto second against Cardinals’ starter Adam Wainwright, with Robles hitting ninth.
“We moved Trea to leadoff today,” Martinez said before the lineup was posted publicly.
“Soto is going to bat second. [Ryan Zimmerman] is in there. We’re going to give Josh Bell the day with the quick turnaround. So put Robles ninth. We talked about this in Spring Training, that some days I’d like to try this, and I thought today was the perfect day for it.”
Robles, 23, led off in every game this season before the third of three with the Cards, and he took the field yesterday with a .214/.353/.286 line on the season, but, Martinez stressed, he is happy with what he’s seen from his center fielder, and this was in no way a reaction to his production thus far.
“I think he’s doing well,” the manager said. “And he’s getting his swing off on good pitches. He seems to be fouling off the pitches that he was hitting in Spring Training a little bit. But this has nothing to do — there will be days where I put him back at leadoff and keep Turner 2 and Soto 3, today I wanted to go Turner, 1, and Soto 2, and Zim is going to hit third.”
Turner went 2 for 4 with a walk and a run scored in the Nationals’ 6-0 win. Soto was 2 for 5 with two runs scored. Zimmerman went 1 for 5 with a two-run home run. Robles went 0 for 3 with a walk and three Ks on the day.
“Just a perfect day...”:
Why was it, as Martinez said, a perfect day to have Trea Turner lead off?
“Just a quick turnaround,” he told reporters. “I teeter-totter a lot about hitting Soto second. I kind of want to hit Soto second at times. I thought today with us facing [Adam] Wainwright, those two guys had some good success against him, so get them up there and try to get them as many at bats as possible against him.”
And the explanation he provided for wanting Soto to hit second, echoed the teachings of The Book.
“I like the fact that late in the game he gets that extra at bat. I’ve been around a lot of years and watched in the top of the ninth of the bottom of the ninth, you’re down or you want to add on some runs and sometimes your best hitter is on deck and never gets a chance to hit that last at bat, so it gives us an opportunity to get him up there if we need him for that extra at bat.”
Voth’s Role; Becoming “A Guy”:
Austin Voth made the Opening Day roster as a long man in the bullpen, with Joe Ross taking the final spot in the rotation, and Erick Fedde, who was supposed to be a reliever, filling out the starting mix while the Nats waited to get whole following the pre-Opening Day COVID crisis in the nation’s capital.
Voth’s scoreless, 13-pitch frame on Tuesday night in St. Louis, was just his second outing of the season (through eight games), and Martinez talked about how he plans to use the right-hander.
“When we talk to him about this, [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey and I, that eventually he’s going to have to become a guy,” Martinez said.
“We want him to be a one-inning guy, a one-plus inning guy that we can use, and there’s going to come a point where he’s going to get that opportunity. Right now, because we got two guys that didn’t pitch all of last year [Joe Ross and Stephen Strasburg], we’ve got Fedde that we’ve got to get stretched out.
“We got to try to save one guy in case something does happen that he can go multiple innings.
“And unfortunately [Voth’s] that guy. But he came in yesterday, got outs. Came in against the Dodgers.
“I think he could do really well just going in there and pitching one inning. His velo in LA topped out at 96, so can I say that definitively we want him to be that one inning guy right now, no, but eventually I think he can become that guy.”
Voth threw an 11-pitch bottom of the ninth against the Cardinals on Wednesday.