Sunday, June 13, 2010

Questioning Riggleman's Lineup Card and Episode II: The Stras-pire Strikes Back

This weekend has been full of World Cup talk and game watching my house, like hundreds of millions of homes across the world. It's an exciting time every 4 years when June comes around, even for those that aren't huge soccer fans. It's very exciting to watch players compete for their countries in the most popular sport on earth. But I digress; back to America's Pastime.

Jim Riggleman came into the series against the Cleveland Indians hoping to capitalize on the Nationals sweep against the Pirates, the excitement over Stephen Strasburg, and the offensive weakness of the Indians.

Well, none of that has happened so far. The Nats have given up 7 runs in each of the first 2 games against the Indians. The pitching has been abysmal, and one former Nationals player that the team dismissed and ate his $8 million contract came back to bite them. Austin Kearns, yes, the Nats player that hit the Mendoza Line in 2009 and was injured for most of the last 2 years of his Nationals career is healthy in Cleveland, hitting .307. He hit 2 home runs against Atilano on Friday. Personally, I'm happy to see Austin healthy and successful.

However, Riggleman did give himself much offensive assistance with his Friday and Saturday lineups. Most questionable of all of those calls was Willy Harris as a DH on Saturday. The Nationals wanted to get Harris some consistent playing time to get his confidence up. However, the offensive expense was great. Harris is now hitting .163 and went 0 for 7 against Cleveland. He is not in the lineup today.

Meanwhile, Michael "Don't Call Me Mike" Morse is hitting .417 and was coming off of a 3 for 3 night against Pittsburgh to end that series with a sweep. To me, it defies logic how a team that is competitive in the NL East well into June can take the bat out of a kid's hands who is hitting over .400 to put it in someone's hand that is hitting well below .200 and is a liability with the bat. Making a lefty batter against a righty pitcher in favor of Harris is irrelevant as well. Harris is hitting just .165 against righties, while Morse is hitting .556; even better than he is against lefties.

Morse has taken it all in stride. He knows his role as a utility guy, and has embraced it. However, when you have a player that is as dominant as Morse is, I question Riggleman's managerial decisions putting Willie Harris in the game.

Today's lineup looks a little more like the Nats want to compete to win, but the Indians certainly are going for the sweep with theirs. Oh, and some good young kid is pitching for the Nats for his 2nd start. Maybe you've heard of him...

1. Guzman, 2B
2. Nyjer, CF
3. Zim, DH
4. Adam Dunn, 1B
5. Hammer, LF
6. Pudge, C
7. Morse, RF
8. Ian Desmond, SS
9. The Attorney General (Gonzalez), 3B
SP: Stephen Strasburg

1. Trevor Crowe, CF
2. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
3. Carlos Santana, C
4. Travis Hafner, DH
5. Austin Kearns, LF
6. Russell Branyan, 1B
7. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
9. Luis Valbuena, 2B
9. Anderson Hernandez, SS
SP: David Huff

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