Dusty Baker needs to drop Ryan Zimmerman in the Nationals’ batting order

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A lot has been made over the last two days about opposing teams avoiding Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. In a four-game series from Thursday to Sunday, the Cubs walked Harper 13 times in 18 plate appearances, including six walks in seven PA on Sunday. It worked, because Harper was able to register only one single and his team suffered a sweep at Wrigley Field.

The Tigers weren’t as adamant about avoiding Harper as the Cubs were, but Harper still walked twice in four trips to the dish in Monday’s walk-off 5-4 win. He was hitless with a strikeout in his other two plate appearances.

Ryan Zimmerman has hit fourth behind Harper in 27 of 32 games, including Monday. On Sunday, he left a record 14 runners on base (six of which were Harper) in a 1-for-7 performance. Zimmerman came into Monday’s contest hitting a meager .236/.293/.340 with one home run and 12 RBI in 116 plate appearances. Zimmerman went hitless on Monday and stranded five more base runners. Daniel Murphy, who has mostly hit fifth behind Zimmerman, went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run. He entered Monday’s action batting an astounding .395/.439/.640.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker needs to swap Zimmerman in the batting order. Opposing managers will be less willing to pitch around Harper with Murphy coming up. Right now, with the way Zimmerman has been hitting, there’s no deterrent. Yes, it will create two left-handed hitters in a row, which might make it more likely that both Harper and Murphy will face a lefty specialist late in games. But that won’t outweigh the gain of Harper being able to see legitimate pitches in the strike zone from pitchers earlier in the game.

It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. If Zimmerman heats up and Murphy cools down, they can simply be flipped in the batting order again. Right now, though, with the way each hitter is performing, Baker is costing his team runs (and wins) by leaving Zimmerman behind Harper and Murphy behind Zimmerman.

Tyler Glasnow scheduled to rejoin Rays’ rotation

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow is scheduled to rejoin the rotation at Cleveland after missing nearly 14 months because of Tommy John surgery.

The Rays’ Opening Day starter last year hasn’t pitched this season after undergoing the procedure on Aug. 4, 2021.

“I think we’re pretty confident he’ll be starting for us,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said before the game with Toronto. “This is the first time he’s thrown pain-free in quite some time, so he’s encouraged by it.”

The 6-foot-8 right-hander went 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts last year and is a key addition as the Rays near a wild-card spot.

“Compared to the past, like, three years it feels way better as far as postday and the week leading into starts and stuff,” Glasnow said. “It’s good to have an UCL, you know.”

Cash said Glasnow will throw around 45 pitches in his initial outing, which should allow him to go two or three innings.

“Two innings of Glasnow is still a huge plus for our team,” Cash said. “Like to get three innings. If we do, great. If we don’t, that’s fine, too.”

Glasnow allowed one run, one hit, four walks and had 14 strikeouts over seven innings in four starts with Triple-A Durham.

“I’m really excited,” Glasnow said. “I’m approaching it like normal, staying on routine. Feels normal.”

Glasnow signed a two-year, $30.35 million contract that will delay the start of his free agency by one year last month. He’s making $5.1 million this year and will get $5.35 million next season and $25 million in 2024, which is the first year he would have been eligible for free agency.