Davey Martinez’s initial lineup for the series opener in LA had Victor Robles batting ninth with Cèsar Hernàndez leading off against the Dodgers, but 50 minutes or so after the first batting order was released, the club sent out an updated lineup with Robles leading off for the second time this season.
In his previous 15 games before last night, Robles was on a nice run (.268/.318/.415 in 45 plate appearances), and sometime between the first and the second lineup Martinez decided to mix things up, moving his center fielder to the top of the lineup with Hernàndez at No. 2, Juan Soto at No. 3, Josh Bell No. 4, and Nelson Cruz behind him.
“He’s swinging the bat well,” Martinez said of Robles. “You think about what he does when he gets on base. I mean, he causes a bunch of havoc. So I talked to him today, and I told him, ‘I want you to lead off, we’ll lead you off for a while,’ and see what he does. He’s done it in the minor leagues, he had good success with it, so I wanted to see if we could jumpstart our offense somehow, get some kind of energy.”
He said before last night’s game it was a move he planned to stick with for a while.
“I’m going to lead him off for a while, so we’ll see.”
Robles led off in 29 games last season, with a .198/.286/.293 line in the spot, but Martinez said he thought the 25-year-old could handle the role, though he did say he discussed not changing anything with the move.
“Our conversation was just, ‘Don’t change anything of what you’re doing right now,’” the manager explained. “And he’s working really hard on his swing. He’s having some success right now, and he’s working with [hitting coach Darnell Coles] every day. I want him to continue to do that. Nothing changes, just the fact he’s going to get up there and play the game, and I told him exactly that. ‘Just play the game. If the game dictates that you’ve got to bunt, then you’ll bunt. If you go up there and you’ve got to move a guy over, then you move a guy over.’ But for me, it’s about trying to get you on base and letting you be you. And try to steal bases for us, and do what you can to help us win games.”
Martinez did, however, acknowledge that he was concerned Robles might press and try to do too much in the leadoff role.
“I always worry about that,” he said with a laugh, “… because he’s that kind of guy. He’s that kind of guy that he — he just plays with a lot of — when he’s out there and he’s doing something, he plays with all that energy and passion. So like I said, when I talked to him today, it’s about controlling himself a little bit, but understanding the game. So like I said, we’ll see. If it goes well, he’s going to help us. He’s going to get up there, he’s got those big guys behind him that hit. Hopefully he’ll get on base, and these guys can drive him in.”
Robles went 1 for 5 with a run scored and a strikeout in the Nationals’ 4-1 win. He’s back up top for tonight’s game.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE 2ND OF 3 IN LA: