Davey Martinez’s club is middle of the pack when it comes to shifting against right-handed hitters, realigning defenders 15.7% of the time over the first month-plus of the 2022 season, as compared to the Toronto Blue Jays, who’ve done so 66.4% of the time, the most in the majors, or the Kansas City Royals, who’ve shifted their defense against RHBs s big league low 3.9% of the time as of Tuesday morning.
Baseball Savant defines a shift, “as when three or more infielders are on the same side of second base,” just for clarity’s sake.
Against left-handed hitters, Washington’s Nationals will go into a shift 51.7% of the time — in the bottom 1⁄3 league-wide — with Houston’s Astros (77.9%), doing the most shifting against lefties, and Atlanta’s Braves doing the least (40.9%).
“We’re just looking at what our pitchers do, how our pitchers pitch, how we attack hitters, and also how the hitters hit,” Davey Martinez explained last week when he was asked about his decision-making when it comes to defensive alignments, “... so all our analytical data dictates what we do on the field, and then during the course of the game we make adjustments as well. A lot has to do with how we feel — where the game is, who bunts and doesn’t bunt, all that stuff, so I thought we were doing a good job of really shifting and not trying to over-shift as well.”
Martinez said he was generally pleased with how the data they’re getting helps them adjust and prepare for opposing hitters so far this season.
“Right now,” he reiterated, “we’re doing well. We might make adjustments as we go along, but I like where we’re aligning every day, especially with the pitchers, our pitchers — what we’re trying to do against their hitters, so everything has been good.”
Keep Playing Yadi!:
Yadiel Hernández’s streak of five-straight multi-hit games ended with a 1 for 3, HR, BB game in Anaheim over the weekend, and he went 1 for 4 in the series finale with the Angels, for a 7-game hitting streak, over which the 34-year-old slugger was 14 for 29 (.483/.516/.724) with four doubles and the home run over that stretch, which left him with a .365/.392/.541 line, a pair of homers and seven doubles overall on the year. So, yeah, he’s 34, and in his third year in the majors (after a long, impressive career in Cuba), and he’s on a rebooting team, but he is going to keep playing if he keeps hitting like he has, especially considering the lefty does not seem to care if there are lefties or righties on the hill (a .345/.371/.535 in 62 PAs vs LHPs this season; .438/.471/.563 in 17 PAs vs RHPs before Tuesday’s game).
“I love the way he swings the bat, I really do,” Davey Martinez said before once again putting Hernández’s name in the lineup last night, “and like I’ve said, the biggest thing for me, as I always talk to him, I say, ‘You got to play both sides of the game. You got to play good defense — I know you’re going to hit, but you’ve got to play good defense, and you’ve got to run the bases well, and he’s worked on that, but when he’s swinging the bat the way he is it’s hard to take him out of the lineup, it really is, because he can hit lefties and righties effectively, so right now he’s swinging the bat really well, so we’re going to keep him in there.
“He’s in the middle of our lineup, I like him when there’s runners on base when he comes up, he gives us a chance to score some runs, so he’s doing well.”
Going into last night’s game, Hernández was 12 for 33 (for a .364/.405/.515 line) in at-bats with runners on early this season, and was 9 for 18 (.500/.500/.778) hitting with RISP over the first month-plus.
He went 0 for 4 with a K last night, bringing an end to his hitting streak...
Carl Edwards, Jr. Is Happy Again:
Carl Edwards, Jr. played five season with Chicago after making his major league debut with the Cubs in 2015, then bounced around a bit before signing with Washington back in March and working his way up from Triple-A to the majors, called up before the start of this week’s three-game set with the New York Mets in Nationals Park.
Edwards, Jr. didn’t get down on himself when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster in D.C., he just went down to Triple-A and dominated for the Rochester Red Wings (a 0.63 ERA, 1.95 FIP, 10.67 K/9, 2.51 BB/9 in 14 1⁄3 IP) before he got the call to come back to the big leagues in the nation’s capital.
“I’ve lived and I’ve learned from multiple mistakes I’ve made, different things,” Edwards, Jr. said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman last night.
“I wake up now and just tell myself: I got to see the sun rise. It’s a blessing. I get to play baseball. That’s a blessing. I’m just going to enjoy it here and see what the season brings.”
“For him, it’s all about strike-throwing,” Davey Martinez said when asked about the reliever’s comments about enjoying himself these days.
Martinez was, of course, the bench coach for the Cubs early in Edwards, Jr.’s career, and he said he was happy to see the right-hander have success again.
“When he works ahead in the count he does really well,” Martinez explained, “because he’s got three really effective pitches. The biggest thing for me is not to fall in love with his cutter. He’s got a good curveball, he’s got a good changeup, so he’s got to mix it in there.
“He can throw his curveball for a strike at any time, which is something that I told him when he was really good, he did that.
“He came in 0-0 and dropped a curveball in for a strike, and now all of a sudden now he’s throwing 96 MPH cutters, and also a good changeup, so that was one thing that we really focused on with him since we got him here, and also his healthy. When he’s healthy, he’s good. His velo was down for the last couple years, and now his velo is back up, so it’s good to see, and when you’re doing well, you can have fun, and that’s something that I talked to him about today, just continuing to have fun and let me know, because I definitely got to keep an eye on him, but let me know how you’re feeling day-to-day, and like I said, but you’re going to pitch.”
Edwards, Jr. got into last night’s game, taking the mound in the sixth, with a 2-0 lead, and gave up three hits, a walk, and three earned runs, blowing the lead in his debut in D.C. in what ended up a 4-2 loss for the Nationals.