Not a real one of course, though that would be awesome. Rather, a lineup merry-go-round in order to accommodate Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon once Harper returns from the DL. Here’s Adam Kilgore of the Post, relaying what Williams now says his plan is:
Zimmerman will move between left field, first base and third base; Harper could see starts at all three outfield positions; and Rendon will play both third base and second base. Williams would use the versatility to create advantageous match-ups and to give players rest. Under that scenario, center fielder Denard Span, right fielder Jayson Werth and first baseman Adam LaRoche would all receive occasional days off.
This is a change from his earlier plan, which was to have Harper play left, to move Anthony Rendon to second base and to move Danny Espinosa to the bench.
It’s Williams’ team, so he can obviously do whatever he wants. And his plan — the more elaborate one — may maximize his ability to rest guys and play the hot hand. One wonders, though, whether a first-year manager will have both the will and ability to carry through with a plan that moves a lot of veterans around and makes them frequently change positions and take days off. If the Nats keep winning, sure, easy. If not, that is often a recipe for grumbling players.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.