As much as he’s wanted to get a look at Victor Robles down the stretch of the season, Davey Martinez also wanted to give Adam Eaton opportunities to keep playing until the finish line, making sure his surgically repaired left knee and ankle could hold up through the late September grind.
Eaton, though, is now dealing with stiffness in that knee, so that has opened the door for Robles to get his first extended look of the season.
Eaton isn’t in the Nationals’ lineup tonight, the fourth time that has been the case in the club’s last five games. This after the veteran outfielder had started 17 of the Nats’ previous 20 games and expressed a desire to keep that pace up through the season’s final two weeks.
“Just stiff,” Martinez said. “I told him, ‘Just take a couple days off.’ At this point, I don’t want him re-injuring anything.”
Eaton did pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth Thursday night, striking out to keep the Nationals’ game against the Mets tied 4-4.
Robles, meanwhile, went 1-for-5 while playing all 12 innings in center field, striking out four times, including in the bottom of the 11th with the winning run on third base.
“Yesterday a situation arose where he could’ve won the game,” Martinez said of the talented rookie. “I know it’s a big moment for him, and he’s young. He needs to learn what he can and what he can’t do in those moments. But so far I really love what I see out of him. Just watching him in the dugout, and his excitement and his energy, it’s awesome. He loves to play.”
Robles’ performance during his September call-up has been erratic to date. He’s 6-for-30 with three walks and seven strikeouts, but he launched his first career home run earlier this week in Miami and has made a couple of impressive plays in the field.
Regardless of the performance, the Nationals see value in watching Robles play several days in a row like this as they make important evaluations heading into a complicated offseason.
“You get some consistent at-bats in a row,” Martinez said. “You just get to watch him play baseball all around. Yesterday he had a great idea about trying to bunt to get on. Watch him play defense, watch him move around and run the bases. He’s a good athlete. It’s nice to see him go out there and play a few days in a row and see what he can do.”
Update: The good news so far tonight: The Nationals have scored an early run off Jacob deGrom, thanks to Ryan Zimmerman’s second inning sacrifice fly. The bad news: The Mets have scored four runs in three innings off Joe Ross. They have done so via seven hits, five of those doubles. Ross wasn’t helped by his defense, with Robles, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon all unable to make plays that were makeable. But the fact remains that Ross is getting hit hard. And because of it, the Nats trail 4-1 after three.