Victor Robles will not start in tonight's National League Division Series Game 3 due to a mild strain of his right hamstring. Nationals skipper Davey Martinez said Robles is available as an "emergency" pinch-hitter.
"He had a MRI and it's a very, very mild strain," Martinez said. "His right hamstring. If need be, on an emergency (basis), he'll be available to pinch-hit. As we all know how Victor plays, he wanted to play today, but I really believe that it's best that ... we get him treatment, and he's going to try to ride the bike and run a little bit today and see how he feels."
Robles was injured running to first base late in Game 2 on Friday night in Los Angeles. He was replaced by Michael A. Taylor, who will take over for Robles tonight in center field and bat eighth. Martinez said Taylor can be a positive factor in this game. Taylor's grand slam in Game 4 of the 2017 NLDS sealed a 5-0 series-tying win over the Cubs at Chicago.
"Yeah, for me with Michael, you really don't lose anything in center field," Martinez said. "And he's had a really good September, so hopefully he continues to swing the bat the way he's been swinging it and go out there and play good defense."
In Taylor's last 10 regular season games, he hit .500 (6-for-12) with two doubles, one homer, one RBI and two stolen bases. This season, he hit .278 against left-handed pitchers, as opposed to .231 versus righties, albeit a small sample size (40 at-bats). He is a .308 hitter at home this season.
Early this week in the 4-3 NL wild card win over Milwaukee, Taylor was hit by a pitch, keying the three-run game-changing rally. He scored the first run on Juan Soto's two-RBI single.
Brian Dozier gets the nod at second base and Howie Kendrick is at first base.
"I like the matchup," Martinez said of Dozier's selection. "Dozier is, he's a big part of what we did here, why we had success, and he hits lefties really well. And I like him playing second base with AnÃbal (SÃ¡nchez) pitching."
Ryan Zimmerman hit .367 against left-handers this season, and Kendrick had two errors in Game 1. But Kendrick has also been one of the Nats' most consistent hitters all season, posting a .465 average over his last 15 games, with 20 hits, three homers and six RBIs. He also has hit .376 against left-handed pitching this season with six homers and 26 RBIs.
"Yeah, it was definitely a consideration," Martinez said of Zimmerman starting. "As we all know, Howie's had an incredible year and he's been swinging the bat well. And like I said, I like Dozier at second today and I do like his bat today."
In Game 2, the Nats set the tone early on by scoring three runs in the first two frames on their way to a 4-2 win over the Dodgers to even the series. The skipper has said all season scoring early will certainly help the Nats because their strength is their starting pitching. Stephen Strasburg was on point with the 2-0 lead and ended up throwing six innings, allowing only one run on three hits with 10 strikeouts.
"Yeah, I truly believe it, I said this all year, we want to come out and score first every game," Martinez said. "When we do that, we put a lot of pressure on the other team. So our focus is always to try to get ahead early in the game and stay ahead."
In five of his seven postseason starts, SÃ¡nchez has gone six or more innings, and in those starts he has never given up more than three earned runs. Plus, he has averaged only 1.43 runs of support in those seven starts. His team has scored zero runs for him in three of those contests. A quick start for the Nats tonight might also benefit SÃ¡nchez and determine how long Martinez allows his right-hander to stay in the game.
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