Nats starting to catch on

I’ve decided that I would like a montage of moments from my life set to “One Shining Moment” and played at my funeral. I’m not sure whether I’m kidding or not.

Is that weird? I don’t care.

Now I just have to get to work on creating some actual shining moments. I’m not sure me sitting on my sofa eating nachos will cut it.

If you haven’t yet seen how the Rangers-Rays game ended last night, take a look.

Yikes. Just a bit outside.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson knew going into the regular season that he would have a major luxury on his hands. Regardless of which catcher Johnson decided to start on any given day, he felt he could have confidence that guy would get the job done.

Once Wilson Ramos proved in spring training that his right knee was healthy and strong after multiple surgeries last summer to repair a torn ACL and meniscus, Johnson had two proven catchers he could rely on.

Ramos was viewed as the Nationals’ catcher of the future prior to suffering that knee injury last May, and Kurt Suzuki, acquired in a midseason trade with the A’s, had been a clutch hitter down the stretch and meshed well with the pitching staff.

I remember asking Johnson late in spring training how he planned to decide which catcher would get the bulk of the playing time. Johnson’s response was simple. He said he wasn’t going to stress about it, and that he’d come out looking smart whichever way he went because of how talented his options were.

It’s still incredibly early, of course, but through the season’s first two series, Johnson has indeed looked pretty darn smart regardless of which catcher he’s put in the starting lineup on a particular day. The Nats’ skipper has alternated Ramos and Suzuki, and gotten great results doing so.

The two catchers have combined to bat .389 (third-best among major league teams at the catcher spot), they’re getting on base at a .500 clip (tops in the majors) and have posted a 1.000 slugging percentage (also best in the league). Ramos and Suzuki have hit three home runs between them, and five of their seven hits are for extra bases.

If the Nationals can continue to get solid production out of Ramos and Suzuki, it could do wonders for their lineup. The more times those two can reach base, the more chances the Nats will get to turn the lineup over, giving Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper an opportunity to bat with runners on and put together a big inning.

Yes, opposing teams might opt to start intentionally walking Ramos and Suzuki to get to the pitcher’s spot in the lineup even more frequently if the Nats’ catchers keep swinging such hot bats. But doing so would be to the Nationals’ advantage, as well.

Even if the pitcher makes the final out of an inning after Ramos or Suzuki has been intentionally walked, that’s one more inning that Span is leading off, with no outs in the inning and a fresh slate.

Pitchers love being able to retire the No. 8 batter in the order for the final out of an inning and then starting the next inning by facing the opposing pitcher, giving them a shot at a relatively easy out to kick off that frame. An intentional walk to Suzuki or Ramos prevents teams from doing so.

Johnson will continue to alternate Ramos and Suzuki for now, keeping both guys fresh and allowing them to each do some damage offensively. Given the way both guys have produced, that strategy seems to be working just fine.

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