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.