Michael Morse keeps saying he’s accepted his role as a bench player. And then he keeps giving the Nationals reasons to take him out of it.
Morse hit his second homer of the year in the fourth inning, giving the Nationals their third lead of the night before John Lannan gave it back. He’s hitting .429 with a 1.094 OPS, and is 8-for-13 with a pair of homers this month.
Morse was going to be part of the right-field platoon at the start of the year, but lost most of the playing time after he strained his left calf in the season’s first week. But he’s probably the Nationals’ best - if not their only - power bat off the bench, and he’s probably got more pop than Roger Bernadina. Bernadina has played well enough to keep the spot; he’s 1-for-2 tonight and hitting .286. But Morse provides something Bernadina probably can’t.
Lannan, meanwhile, continues to plod along. He’s thrown 54 of 91 pitches for strikes in four innings, walking four, giving up eight hits and allowing four runs. Tyler Walker was up at the end of the fourth inning, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start the fifth. I don’t think the Nationals are going to pull Lannan from the rotation; he’s one of their only proven commodities. But he’s struggled most of this year, and is doing so again tonight. The Nationals and Tigers are tied at four in the top of the fifth.