Manager Matt Williams swapped left fielder Bryce Harper and second baseman Anthony Rendon in the Nationals’ lineup against the Chicago Cubs.
Harper will hit second against Chicago right-hander Jason Hammel and Rendon will hit sixth, despite Rendon hitting well this season from that spot. Earlier this week, Harper expressed displeasure with hitting sixth.
Williams said the change is for match-up purposes, and it could be used more in the future against right-handed pitchers.
“I think it’s a question of trying to create a little bit with Bryce at the top of the lineup, especially against a righty,” Williams said. “We’ve faced three lefties the last three games. I wanted to give him some opportunity to drive runs in and the same holds true for Anthony in that regard. Bryce at the top of the lineup against the right-handed pitcher, he can create some stuff. Hammel has really good numbers against the Nationals and the league as a whole. We wanted to see if we could create some opportunities for guys in the middle today.”
Williams said he wanted the players with higher on-base percentage higher in the lineup, which would create opportunities for Rendon to drive-in runs at the sixth spot. Center fielder Denard Span hits leadoff, and his on-base percentage is .316.
With Span and Harper – two lefties – batting back-to-back, it could be an advantage for the Cubs late in the game if they brought in a left-handed reliever.
“You go into a game thinking we don’t want that to matter,” Willimas said. “We want to have the lead, and late in the game, if it happens, it happens. We don’t want it to matter – we want the lead. We’re trying to create some opportunities for those guys in the middle today.”