Davey Martinez talked before the series opener with the Colorado Rockies in D.C. last night about not wanting to mess with the top of the Washington Nationals’ order (which has had Lane Thomas, Alcides Escobar, Juan Soto, and Josh Bell in that order for the most part over recent weeks) since they’ve actually been doing well as a group.
The fourth-year skipper was asked if he’d given any consideration to moving some of his other, younger, hitters up?
“I like what we’re doing right now in the lineup,” Martinez explained.
“You want to try to move guys up, I thought about moving up [Luis] García, because he swings the bat well, but there’s a process with that.
“We’re trying to get him to swing at strikes, and taking his walks, you know, he really hasn’t been able to do that.
“When they do throw balls in the strike zone, he’s been hitting them pretty hard, but we got to get him in the strike zone, so I don’t want to move him up and have him chasing balls all over the place. That’s not what we’re trying to do here.”
He thought about potentially moving Carter Kieboom up to at one point, though the hot corner infielder has cooled at the plate some in September.
“And Carter has done well where he’s at, either 5-6-or-7, and I want to keep him there for now, and we’re going to finish out the year,” Martinez said.
“There might be a time — I thought about it against left-handed [pitchers] maybe pushing him up, but it’s also not fair to Lane and Escobar, who have done really well up there, and having those two guys get on for Juan Soto.”
And Soto, the manager noted, is swinging it, and making a run at a second-consecutive NL batting title, which is something Martinez said he wants to facilitate in any way he can.
“Remember, Juan Soto, he is continuing to do what he does. And not only is he playing to help us win games, but statistically-wise, he’s playing to win another batting title, and I would love for him to do that as well, so I want to leave things the status quo, and he’s been doing well, Josh Bell has been doing well hitting behind him.
“We’re scoring tons of runs the way the lineup is, so I don’t want to mess with that.”
With Thomas and Escobar getting on, and Soto and Bell swinging it well, why should he mess with it?
“Those two guys have been amazing in the middle of the order,” Martinez told reporters of Soto and Bell, “... and like I said, Escobar, he’s not going to walk a whole lot, he’s a guy that has really good bat-to-back skills, but as you can see, he gets his hits, he knows how to get on base, he’ll bunt when he needs to. Lane, same, Lane [has] tremendous bat-to-ball skills, puts the ball in play, he’s been doing well, and he’s another guy where leading off I tell him, ‘Hey, there’s another side of the field, you don’t have to pull everything, you’ve just got to get yourself in a good position, but with two strikes, you’ve got to try to stay in the middle of the field.’ And he’s done a lot better with that, and he’s actually come up to me and said, ‘I feel like I can really wait for the ball a little bit longer, and drive the ball to right field,’ and as you can see he’s done that, and hit some balls a long way, so good for him.”
And good for the Nationals, who are putting runs on the board, but need the pitching to get it together down the stretch if they want to start winning consistently ... though it is really at this point more about development and growth... and winning batting titles, apparently...
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE 2ND OF 3 WITH THE ROCKIES:
NOTES: Oh, hey, Ryan Zimmerman is starting at first base. Also: Davey Martinez talked in his pregame Zoom call again about liking the way Patrick Corbin has pitched with Alex Avila as his catcher the last few times, but noted he does want Corbin to work with Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams before the season is over...