Should they go out and add a bat or stand pat? Should it be an infielder with experience or another solid bench bat? Could they possibly, as Ray Knight told us on “Nats Xtra” the other night, consider a blockbuster deal to acquire Chase Utley from the Phillies? Did you see all the scouts at the Phillies game Saturday night? Hint: there were a lot of them. OK, so maybe they were looking at the Phillies starters.
Zach Walters did a very nice job Friday night in the opener against the Reds. In his first major league start at second base, Walters delivered a game-altering RBI double (his first major league double, too) that ignited a three-run rally against Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon.
It was the kind of hit that can get a manager’s attention. Knight told me that Walters can garner more and more playing time if he can put together a nice stretch and get some key hits so that he can stay here and be considered a viable option for the long haul at second base.
He can switch-hit. He can play pretty much any infield spot. He can even play in the outfield.
The Nationals can platoon Danny Espinosa and Walters until he gets a good feel for playing everyday in the big leagues. It makes sense to keep Espinosa and Walters for righty/lefty match-ups. Espinosa’s plus-plus defense is crucial for any stretch drive run.
With all the right-handers the Nationals are seeing, I would start Walters, even instead of Kevin Frandsen. Let’s see what Walters can do. He can go on a big roll and help the Nationals maintain their latest 15-7 run since June 28.
Of course, general manager Mike Rizzo could make a move to fortify the bench or get another veteran infielder prior to July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. That is always an option.
But you have to root for guys like Walters. After he struck out against Simon on Friday in his first at-bat, you could see how frustrated he was that he swung at a pitch way outside the zone.
You could almost read his mind and how bad he wanted to make a positive impression.
It is very difficult to make it to the big leagues. It is triple the difficulty to stay in the majors and then become an everyday player, especially at mid-season. Walters’ run-scoring double Friday was that first step.
The Nationals face another right-hander in Mat Latos on Sunday. They also face right-handers in the first two games in Miami this week: Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez. Nothing easy about any of those match-ups.
My guess is Walters gets the start in at least two of those games. If he gets a couple of game-changing hits Sunday, he could start all three.