Actually, this isn’t a one or the other situation. Jim Riggleman’s lineup tonight is both creative and desperate.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Jason Werth was moved to the leadoff spot for tonight’s game against the Padres. Oh, but that’s not all. They also have the pitcher John Lannan batting eighth and Brian Bixler ninth, who is subbing for the injured Roger Bernadina.
While the move says a lot about how much the Nationals have struggled offensively, it actually makes plenty of sense on the surface. Werth enters Saturday’s action with a .345 on-base percentage this season while Nationals’ leadoff hitters have a major-league worst .267 on-base percentage. And though he hasn’t shown it this season, Werth has a .380 on-base percentage against southpaws for his career. The Nationals will face left-hander Clayton Richard tonight.
In reality, Werth will only leadoff once tonight. In the top of the first inning. You certainly don’t want your best hitter batting after the pitcher, so Bixler at least gives him a little protection there. The Nationals have scored three runs or less in four consecutive games, so I applaud Riggleman for trying something different.
The Cardinals announced a handful of roster moves ahead of Sunday night’s game against the Pirates. Outfielder Dexter Fowler and pitcher Kevin Siegrist were placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right heel spur and a cervical spine strain, respectively. Outfielder Chad Huffman was optioned to Triple-A Memphis. The club recalled outfielder Randal Grichuk and pitcher Mike Mayers and purchased the contract of first baseman Luke Voit from Memphis.
Fowler, 31, apparently suffered his heel injury during Saturday’s game against the Pirates. He had previously missed a few games due to a quadriceps injury. He’s currently hitting .245/.336/.481 with 13 home runs and 35 RBI in 277 plate appearances.
Grichuk, 25, struggled to a .222/.276/.377 triple-slash line over his first 46 games in the big leagues, so the Cardinals sent him down to Triple-A. In 14 games with Memphis, Grichuk hit three doubles and six home runs.
Voit, 25, has crushed Triple-A pitching so far this season, batting .322/.406/.561 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI in 293 PA. He may see the occasional start at first base, but he’ll be used mostly as a bench bat.
Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna recently revealed that he has been dealing with an anxiety issue, Rob Longley of the Toronto Star reports. Osuna specified that the issue is completely off the field, not on the field.
Osuna had been feeling “a little bit anxious, a little bit weird” and said, “I feel like I’m lost a little bit right now.” Despite the anxiety, Osuna volunteered to pitch during Friday’s loss to the Royals, but the Blue Jays smartly chose not to put him into the game.
Osuna said, “I wish I knew how to get out of here and how to get out of this. We’re working on it. We’re trying to find ways to see what can make me feel better. But to be honest I just don’t know.”
It must have been tough for Osuna to make his issue public, as there is still a stigma around dealing with mental issues. Given the prominent position he holds in the Jays’ bullpen, fans become even less empathetic about taking time off to deal with it as well. Hopefully, Osuna is able to use the time off to get the help he needs. And hopefully his going public helps motivate other people dealing with mental issues to seek help for themselves.
The 22-year-old recently became the youngest player in major league history to reach 75 career saves. This season, Osuna is carrying a 2.48 ERA with 19 saves and a 37/3 K/BB ratio in 39 innings.
Update: Osuna pitched the ninth inning of an 8-2 ballgame on Sunday and got all three Royals out on strikeouts.