With a soft groundball to third base that he beat out in the fifth inning of Friday’s 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, Tyler Moore snapped a 23 at-bat hitless streak. He also reached on an error and drew a walk. It was the most the scuffling second-year player has reached base since April 15. His batting average sits at .130 in 69 at-bats and his slugging percentage at .232. Expected to make another leap after a promising 10-home run rookie season, Moore has struggled.
Manager Davey Johnson’s solution? Keep playing Moore, especially while Jayson Werth is still out for at least another week and half with a lingering hamstring strain.
“He hasn’t been swinging the bat at all like he’s capable of swinging,” Johnson said of Moore following Friday’s game. “Hopefully he’ll get right. You’ve got the pitcher in the lineup but you can’t have a couple other spots in the lineup that’ll just kill your offense. Certainly we have the talent to do it; they just have got to do it. It’s that simple.”
Even with hot-hitting Bryce Harper spending time in both corner outfield positions this season, the Nationals’ combined production from those positions has been shaky because of the output of the struggling fill-ins. Nationals right fielders have posted to post an OPS of .639, ranked 26th in baseball. Nationals left fielders have a .795 OPS, ninth in the majors, and that’s because Harper has played most of his games there.
Because Werth hasn’t played since May 2, Johnson leaned heavily on backups Steve Lombardozzi, Roger Bernadina and Moore just like last season. The production this season, however, has been different.
“I know I’m not swinging the bat good and haven’t done it all year but just those small sparks kinda get your confidence up and kinda gets you going,” Moore said of Friday’s game. “I know I’m not a .120 hitter. It eventually is going to turn around. I hope we continue to win.”
The Nationals and Johnson still believe in Moore’s potential, and his performance on Friday showed glimpses of improvement. The vote of confidence by Johnson in Moore was reassuring for the converted outfielder.
“That’s awesome to get some at-bats,” Moore said. “You come in the clubhouse and it’s a different mentality when you know you’re going to play. It kinda gets you settled in a little bit more and kinda takes the pressure off.”