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Game 85: Reds at Nats

Jul 8, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

Another day, another depleted lineup card filled out by Matt Williams. Denard Span and Yunel Escobar once again are not playing due to injuries, and as of this posting, the Nationals have announced no roster moves. Which means they’ll be playing with an extremely short bench again for tonight’s series finale against the Reds. How important is Span to this team? Well, when he plays, the Nats are 35-24. When he doesn’t, they’re 11-14. That suggests he’s pretty darn important.

As for that lineup, it’s the same as last night, with one exception: Jose Lobaton is behind the plate, catching Gio Gonzalez for the eighth time in the lefty’s last nine starts (counting the rain-shortened game in Philly). Lobaton winds up hitting fifth tonight; it’s only the fourth time he’s done that in his career, the first time since 2012 with Tampa Bay.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, will be trying to keep the Nationals from getting swept by the Reds this season. Entering tonight, they’re 0-5 against Cincinnati, a fairly baffling stat.

Updates to come…

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 185
Weather: Chance of rain, 83 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF

CF Michael Taylor
3B Danny Espinosa
RF Bryce Harper
1B Clint Robinson
C Jose Lobaton
SS Ian Desmond
2B Dan Uggla
LF Matt den Dekker
LHP Gio Gonzalez

REDS (38-44)
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto
3B Todd Frazier
RF Jay Bruce
LF Marlon Byrd
SS Eugenio Suarez
C Tucker Barnhart
RHP Michael Lorenzen
CF Billy Hamilton

HP Larry Vanover (cc)
1B Ron Kulpa
2B Vic Carapazza
3B Brian Knight

  1. unterp - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:28 PM

    let’s go Nats…

  2. Danny - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:29 PM

    Where is Tyler Moore?

    • Hot Corner - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:48 PM

      Right handed pitcher so not a good matchup.

  3. chaz11963 - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:32 PM

    Oh man… only Bryce and Ian form the original starters. Hopefully, Gio will be sharp.

  4. Nats_UrbanPlanner - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    Roster move seems prudent given the shortened bench; Turner, Dilfo are obvious choices if MW won’t play Buriss. These two would provide for Robinson or Moore to play OF if needed. Is Span important? of course, but a 15- day DL stint seems prudent to get his back issues fixed. At the halfway point we can’t keep going with band aide fixes, we are a injury away from being in serious trouble with such a short bench.

    Also, the lack of news on Rendon and Zim is concerning. Will the Nats ever have a 100% roster? Seems unlikely for 2015; but we the longer we go without these players the more likely it is we are seeing them future of the team which appears bright. A trade seems imminent for the a offense boost.

    Regardless hoping for some offense to not get a season sweep by the Reds. go Nats!

    • National Anthem - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:30 PM

      Gee I get tired hearing “bring up Turner and/or Difo”. Neither. Player. Is. Ready. Difo has already demonstrated he needs more experience in the minors. And Turner…c’mon, give the kid a break: he’s just getting his feet wet and you want him to swim across an ocean. In addition, you don’t want to start their service clocks running if you intend keeping them long term.

      • kkolchak - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:04 PM

        The service clock thing is not that much of an issue as neither Turner nor Difo would accumulate enough roster time this season to affect their free agency/arbitration status. But I totally agree that they should not be rushed at a time in their development when it is unlikely that they would perform much better than the AAAA alternatives on the roster.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:45 PM

        neither Turner nor Difo would accumulate enough roster time this season to affect their free agency/arbitration status.

        It certainly could, depending on when they otherwise would or will be called up next year.

  5. jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    Brutal. Need the good Gio tonight big time.

  6. tcostant - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    How about giving Emmanuel Burriss a start over Uggla???

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:39 PM

    Good move by Rizzo sending Taylor Jordan back and getting a fresh long man in Taylor Hill.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:43 PM

      Jordan looked pretty good last night. I know a lot of people have given up on him. But, there’s potential there.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:46 PM

        He’s a sinkerballer and generally gets lousy defense. Give him good defense and you get sold pitching. I thought he was much better than his stats last year and the year before. His first start this year was not good but that shouldn’t define him.

      • jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:17 PM

        I think this sort of indicates that Roark will start Sunday. If they had intended to start Scherzer they would have used Roark as the long man and brought up a position player (which would have been my choice).

        I think they want to give Scherzer an opportunity to start the all star game.

  8. therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:58 PM

    On the rotation at second base, and Emmannuel Burriss. The reason that Burriss is playing is that the Nationals do not believe that Burriss is their best option at second base given that Dan Uggla is on the team. There is a pretty fair stack of statistical backing for this viewpoint for anyone who wants to take a look at their records.

    Whether one buys it or not, it’s obvious that for now the Nationals have decided that Uggla, who not only has considerable major league experience but has managed not to embarrass himself with the bat this season, is the starter even over Difo and Turner. This is likely a closer question then that involving Burriss. If Uggla struggles and Escobar has to go on the DL for anything over the minimum (back 22 July) this is likely to be re-evaluated. For now, Uggla is the starter unless/until Escobar is available. Given that Uggla is getting the starts, Burriss remains as the 25th man on the roster – the placeholder, use only in case of absolute emergency. This is because the Nationals really don’t care that much whether Burriss is getting playing time in or not. He’s not a prospect, he’s a former marginal major leaguer a couple of seasons past his sunset time who is (to his credit) still hanging in there. The Nationals, quite rightly, want Difo and Turner to be playing SS every day. For now, that’s happening in the minors at AA and AAA, respectively.

    If Escobar is out for an extended period of time and Uggla scuffles (i.e., remains Dan Uggla), only then would you see a move to bring up Difo or Turner. Whoever is brought up in this scenario would be brought up to start, thus obviating the concerns about not getting playing time in. The presumption is that it would be Difo, because that would both save a 40 man roster move and avoid starting Turner’s service clock. The presumption is rebuttable based on Difo and Turner’s performance and availability.

    • Section 222 - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:15 PM

      Good analysis realjohn. Uggla hasn’t had regular ABs this year. I expect him to be given a long leash at 2B until Esco or Rendon can play again. That’s what the Braves are paying him all that money for. 🙂

      • ArVAFan - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:25 PM

        + several Million $$$

  9. micksback1 - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:59 PM

    There is no bigger fan of Mchael than me, having said that, lead off is not the spot he should be in. I would go with Espi instead. I disagree with MW

    • nattygoats - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:02 PM

      Good point Mick. It sure would be nice if Desmond would get going.

    • uvadan86 - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:17 PM

      Michael A. Taylor is next year’s CF/leadoff.

      • nats128 - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:22 PM

        You heard it here first, Trea Turner.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:46 PM

        Your CF doesn’t have to be your leadoff hitter.

  10. nattygoats - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:01 PM

    Boy oh boy. Sad lineup. Maybe Jurassic park tonight.

  11. nattygoats - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    Wait Lobaton?… OMG. Def going to the movies

    • deftndumb - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:36 PM

      Please do.

      • stoatva - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:46 PM

        Shoot, I’ll chip in.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:53 PM

      Good choice. Jurassic Park definitely better than Jurassic World.

  12. micksback1 - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    I would flip flop Taylor with Espi, could make a huge difference in productivity

    • jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:16 PM


      • micksback1 - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:18 PM

        Because as much as I like Michael, right now he strikes out too much to be the lead off. I think Espi provides a better at bat in working the count. Michael should bat 2nd tonight.

      • jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:40 PM

        Yes but why putting a hitter that strikes out too much in the 2 spot so much better than at leadoff? why do you think swapping him with Espi who by the way also strikes out too much make any difference?

        I think batting Harper 3rd is silly because he is bound to come up with the bases empty and 2 men out. Based on today’s availability I would bat Harper 2nd so if they walk him it’s not normally with 2 outs.

      • bowdenball - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:49 PM

        Taylor’s K rate is 31%. Espinosa’s is 22%. That’s a 9% difference, which is maybe one extra strikeout every 2-3 games. I think you might be overthinking this one, mick.

      • Steady Eddie - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:06 PM

        It’s even less difference than 31-22%. Since some time in (early?) May, MAT’s K rate has gone down to 25%.

        Danny’s 2015 line is .258/.338/.435/.774
        MAT’s 2015 line is .241/.294/.377/.671

        Danny is currently the better hitter so he properly goes in the #2 slot.
        Obviously you want a better OBP guy at lead off but without DSpan, Escobar, and of course Rendon and Werth, beggars can’t be choosers.

        That’s what happens when 75% of your starting lineup are hitting at AAA equivalent is what it is.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:48 PM

        Since some time in (early?) May, MAT’s K rate has gone down to 25%.

        Alas, that’s not exactly right. It dipped to 23% for the month of June, but for July so far is back up over 40%.

  13. micksback1 - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:14 PM

    Looking at standings in the East. I have to give Braves credit for hanging around. I really thought they would be more like the Marlins and I thought the Marlins would be a threat. Phillies are where I thought they would be and I love that. Mets I picked to make playoffs before season and I think they will as a WC.

    • philipd763 - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:40 PM

      I suspect the wild cards will come from the Central Division (Cubs and Pirates) or the West (Giants).

  14. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    It is raining ropes in Alexandria at the moment.

  15. philipd763 - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    This lineup is not capable of producing any runs unless Harper does it all by himself and Gio pitches a shutout. Nats have a strike-out machine (Taylor) batting in the lead-off position. Den Decker barely hit .200 in Syracuse and he’s going to hit major pitching?? Uggla is way beyond “over the hill” with the bat and he’s a liability in the field. Desmond is totally lost. As I have said before, this team is having way too many injuries and the training methods and procedures need to be investigated. It took years to get rid of Eckstein as the hitting coach and it will probably take even longer to get rid of the training staff.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:56 PM

      I think your assessment of the precision and perfection of the medical arts in general and of sports medicine in particular to guarantee good health on the part of athletes is off the mark.

      But if it’s any consolation, I’ve seen this complaint on fan boards of numerous other teams about those teams. So apparently the dumb and incompetence is universal.

      • Steady Eddie - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:13 PM

        Or the juvenile expectation that the pro staffs should all be omniscient and omnicompetent Daddies in universal. They’re capable but flawed human beings working with immensely talented but not always entirely forthcoming and equally flawed human beings. It’s a highly inexact science mixed with the vagaries of human beings.

        Get real. (NOT aimed at realjohn)

  16. bowdenball - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:51 PM

    In the interest of positivity, I will say this:

    If you had told me that on July 7th we’d be praying for the quick return of Yunel freaking Escobar to bolster our lineup, I would have assumed we were 5 games under .500 and had scored the fewest runs in the league.

    • jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:00 PM

      I know bowdenball,

      This years it just feels like pulling teeth. It should have been easy but every time we try to pull away some act of god prevents that from happening. I also don’t recall a time when I wished more for rainouts and the all star break..

  17. rlndtln - Jul 8, 2015 at 4:53 PM

    6-5 Brewers bottom 8th.

  18. rlndtln - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:12 PM

    Braves lose.

  19. nats128 - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:24 PM

    MW says he knows his weekend starting rotation and wont tell us. Any ideas Ghost.

    • jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:31 PM

      JMO but if they had intended to start Scherzer on Sunday they would have been able to use Roark out of the pen and would have brought up a position player instead of Hill.

      • nats128 - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:02 PM

        Thats a good opinion.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:16 PM

      I just checked and I’m being told Roark on Friday, JZim on Saturday and Fister on Sunday. Of course things could change.

      • nats128 - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:24 PM

        Intresting. I guess we will see. Im hoping Scherzer on Sunday. I dont care about the All Star game except for the NL winning.

      • natslive - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:50 PM

        So with tonight being postponed do the go with Gio Friday, JZimm sat and Fister or Roark sun?

      • nats128 - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:27 PM

        Looks like it will be Gio on Friday! How quick things change. I have sun in Bethesda. I don’t get the cancellation of tonights game.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:31 PM

        Good for the Nats. They had a split/squad roster going.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:19 PM

        Rizzo with strong words that Scherzer could pitch on Sunday. Nats over the NL All-Star game.

  20. nats128 - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:24 PM

    That Jacob deGrom can pitch and hit.

    • nats128 - Jul 8, 2015 at 5:26 PM

      They used deGrom in a hit and run and he delivered in textbook form. That was impressive. Shot it right in the vacated 2nd baseman spot.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:22 PM

        There was a poster here in early April who was critical of deGrom that he wasn’t that good and a 1 year wonder. Of course he made that comment after deGrom’s 1st 2 starts to the season.

        This kid is proving to be even better than Harvey

  21. natsfan1a - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    Saw this on the tweeter:

    Mark Zuckerman ‏@ZuckermanCSN 5s5 seconds ago

    Tonight’s game postponed. Makeup date TBA. #Nats #Reds
    3:46 PM – 8 Jul 2015 · Details

    • natslive - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:49 PM

      Probably for the best

      • natsfan1a - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:52 PM

        Maybe we’ll have a bunch of healthy guys when they make it up. (A gal can dream.)

      • virginiascopist - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:05 PM

        And Cueto and Chapman may no longer be Reds by then.

      • natsfan1a - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:12 PM


  22. natslive - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:48 PM

    Shall we call Gio Rainman?

    • natsfan1a - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:52 PM


  23. chaz11963 - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:49 PM

    Don’t you think Rizzo has to be interested in another reliable and versatile bat? Zobrist may be well be available before the trade deadline. Also, the bullpen still isn’t fixed. Chapman or Clippard also should be available. I know the price may be high, and I think that’s the rub- I wouldn’t want him to mortgage the Nats’ future. Giolito, Ross, Turner, Difo I would to be untouchable.

    • deftndumb - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:58 PM

      I wonder what JUpton will cost when Prellar goes seller.

      • chaz11963 - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:03 PM

        That would be awesome, but no place to play him. Werth has to be given a long leash.

      • NatsLady - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:05 PM

        He just turned up with an oblique injury and is “day-to-day.” Plus you have to take Melvin.

      • deftndumb - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:26 PM

        Chaz, I hate to say it, but I fear Span may be out for a long, long time. We’ll need an outfield bat.

        NL, if the Melvin formerly known as BJ, and his contract, are involved, then yeah, I’m out.

      • natslive - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:55 PM

        Just say No to Uptons

  24. manassasnatsfan - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:02 PM

    I get home from my job early tonight, get ready to watch the game and I guess the cloud I saw slide by us must not have slid past DC.

    Still dry here.

    • NatsLady - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:06 PM

      It rained buckets in NW and naturally my umbrella was in my Nats bag.

    • natsfan1a - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:11 PM

      It’s storming in south Fairfax County.

  25. NatsLady - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:04 PM

    Good on the postponement. Gives Rizzo a chance to make a roster move for Span if he can figure one out. Off-day tomorrow. We will still be in first place when we go to Ballmer. They just got swept out of Minneapolis.

  26. sjberke - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    FYI, unless they want to schedule a makeup the last day of the All-Star break, the only common off day is Monday August 17, and both teams will have played on the West Coast the day before. Either that or they wait to see if it needs to be made up at the end of the season.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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