Nationals to activate Ryan Zimmerman from DL tomorrow

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Last night Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported that Ryan Zimmerman could return from the disabled list as soon as Tuesday and today he confirmed it via team source, writing: “Now it’s definite.”

Zimmerman, who’s been out since mid-April with an abdominal injury that required surgery, went 8-for-21 (.381) with four extra-base hits and a 1.054 OPS while rehabbing in the minors.

He was off to a great start prior to the injury, hitting .357 with a 1.022 OPS through eight games, but Jerry Hairston Jr. and Alex Cora have struggled to replace him at third base, combining to hit just .255 with two homers and a .648 OPS since April 10.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.