The Washington Nationals felt Ian Desmond could ably step into the leadoff spot this season, filling the role of traded outfielder Nyjer Morgan.

Desmond, however, has struggled, hitting just .180 this season and since going 2-for-3 against the Mets on April 10, the shortstop has failed to register a hit in his last 12 at-bats, reaching just once — a walk Wednesday night against Philadelphia, the only time he has reached base at home this season.

With Morgan set to make his return to Washington on Friday at Nationals Park, Danny Espinosa will step into the leadoff spot for the first time all season while Desmond drops to seventh in the lineup. It is the first time that Desmond has started and not hit leadoff.

This season Espinosa, who is hitting .281, has seen 3.88 pitches per plate appearance while Desmond has seen just 3.51 — a significant difference.

Morgan, meanwhile, is not in Milwaukee’s starting lineup.

1. Danny Espinosa, 2B

2. Rick Ankiel, CF

3. Jayson Werth, RF

4. Adam LaRoche 1B

5. Wilson Ramos, C

6. Michael Morse LF

7. Ian Desmond, SS

8. Jerry Hairston, 3B

9. Tom Gorzelanny, SP

Brewers’ Lineup

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Carlos Gomez, CF

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

7. Erick Almonte, RF

8. Wil Nieves, C

9. Chris Narveson, SP