In the five games since Ryan Zimmerman strained his hamstring and Anthony Rendon shifted back to third base, Nationals Manager Matt Williams has used the following order of players to start at second base: Danny Espinosa, Zach Walters, Kevin Frandsen, Espinosa again and Espinosa yet again.
After Espinosa started against a right-hander in Cincinnati on Sunday, Williams is starting Espinosa against a right-hander again on Monday, this time Nathan Eovaldi in Miami. Williams used the switch-hitting Walters against a right-hander in Cincinnati, and Espinosa has hit left-handers better than right-handers. But Williams liked what he saw from Espinosa on Sunday; he went 1 for 4 and scored a run.
“He hit three balls right on the button,” Williams said. “[Sunday] was a lot calmer at the plate so I like that. We certainly appreciate his defense as well.”
And that gives an indication about how Williams plans to handle the second base duties while Zimmerman is missing from the lineup. Williams wouldn’t say if Espinosa would receive the bulk of the playing time at second. He said he wants to take advantage of a matchup or stick with whichever player is playing well.
“It’s a daily thing and is going to be a daily thing,” Williams said. “If we get to a point where somebody gets hot, we’re going to certainly ride the hot hand. We still have to look at it day by day.”
There are, however, other factors to consider. With Zimmerman out, Frandsen is the Nationals’ backup first baseman so Williams may use him less at second base as a result. And if Williams wants to give days off to Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond or Rendon, he has more limited choices for second. Espinosa is the backup shortstop, but Walters could also play there. Frandsen can play left field, as can Walters.