Martinez gives Robles two days of rest with busy schedule looming

Tonight's Nationals lineup again has Michael A. Taylor playing center field, replacing starter Victor Robles.

Manager Davey Martinez said he noticed Robles appeared to be a bit fatigued during the weekend series at Boston.

"I just wanted to give Victor a couple of days off," Martinez said during today's pregame Zoom video call. "I talked to him. Victor is a high-energy guy. We all know that. I just wanted him to get two days off. I look at some of his numbers and his bat speed has gone down a little bit the last few days. So just giving him a little break. I told him today he'll come back and play as long as he is healthy, he will play the rest of the year. He's been playing a lot."

Statcast defines a "hard-hit ball" as one hit with an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher, and a player's "hard-hit rate" is simply showing the percentage of batted balls that were hit at 95 mph or more.

Reviewing the numbers for the last seven games from Aug. 23-30, Robles registered only four hard-hit balls in 25 at-bats. Statcast has Robles averaging an 83.8 mph exit velocity.

Contrast those numbers to the red-hot Trea Turner (which maybe isn't fair, but gives us a comparison), who has had 10 hard-hit balls over the last seven games and is averaging a 90 mph exit velocity this season.

Robles' slugging percentage was .300 for August after a .478 clip in a handful of July games. His batting average was just .214 last month.

Robles-Catch-Gray-Sidebar.jpgMartinez believes having to jump right back into playing baseball without a full couple of weeks of hands-on baseball-related activities might have something to do with the fatigue Robles feels right now.

"Here's a guy that didn't have hardly any spring training 2.0," Martinez said. "He came off of the injured list and had a couple days and he was off and running. I want to make sure when I see that he looks a little heavy, a little sluggish, I am going to take care of him. He's a big part of our future and big part of this organization. We got a lot of games coming up, got a doubleheader on Friday. Get him two days and get him rejuvenated and get him back out there and let him play with that energy we are accustomed him playing with."

Martinez watches Robles closely. The young outfielder is usually the one that is dancing to the stadium music during batting practice or simulated games. The skipper noticed some of that enthusiasm was lessened at Fenway Park this past weekend.

"For me, I keep a close eye on him," Martinez said. "He is a high-energy guy. He is very outspoken. He likes to goof around, and the last few days in Boston, he was kind of quiet, not himself. I saw some bad jumps in the outfield and I thought his legs were getting heavy on him. I checked the numbers and his bat speed was a little down, his first step was a little down, so that tells me we got to give him some days off here and get him back to where he's playing the way he's capable of playing."

The good news for the Nats is that they do not lose anything on defense with Taylor covering center field. Plus, Taylor crushed a no-doubt solo homer Monday in Philadelphia.

"Obviously, with Michael and him, I believe we got two of the best center fielders in the game," Martinez said. "Michael doesn't miss a beat out there. He's swung the bat well. His average doesn't say it, but he's hitting the ball. So giving him two days to play kind of helps him as well."

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