Luis García’s day off Saturday was somewhat significant, though hardly big news. But when García’s name again wasn’t in the Nationals’ lineup for today’s series finale against the Tigers, it raised eyebrows.
Is the Nats second baseman hurt? Is he being benched for lack of performance?
“No,” manager Davey Martinez said this morning. “I had a conversation with him. This is just kind of a reset for him.”
García certainly merited a break after starting 21 consecutive games and appearing in 33 straight games since missing four days with a tight hamstring early last month.
More than that, Martinez noticed the 23-year-old showing signs of pressing in recent days. García was 1-for-11 with five strikeouts over his last three games. He also committed his first error of the season during Friday night’s loss, a costly mistake that prolonged the top of the third inning for starter Jake Irvin, who wound up not even completing the inning.
“He’s playing well,” Martinez said of García’s overall performance. “We want to continue to have him play well. I just want to make sure. He wears a lot on his sleeve when he doesn’t hit. So I just gave him a little reset, a breather. Tomorrow, we’ve got a scheduled day off, and then he’ll be back in there Tuesday.”
This day off for García also coincides with a day off for both his double-play partner (CJ Abrams) and his catcher (Keibert Ruiz). It’s extremely rare for all three of the Nationals’ young regulars to sit at the same time, but the combination of García’s situation, a day game, a left-hander on the mound for Detroit and a scheduled day off Monday for the entire team convinced Martinez to go ahead and sit them all.
“They’re getting plenty of experience,” he said. “If you think about it, these guys don’t play 162 games a year in the minor leagues. They played 140 games. So giving them days off to kind of get them reset. Today was a day where I wanted to make sure Abrams and Ruiz got a day, because they get two days and they come back Tuesday. It’s hard to play this game for 162 days. So we’ve got to figure out ways to get them off their feet.”
Ildemaro Vargas (shortstop) and Michael Chavis (second base) get the start today up the middle, with Riley Adams behind the plate.
Stone Garrett also gets the start in left field and will bat cleanup against Tigers starter Joey Wentz, yet another left-hander facing the Nationals. He’s the seventh lefty to start against them in their last 12 games, and two more are coming this week (Ryan Weathers, Blake Snell) during a three-game series against the Padres.
That has thrown a wrench into some of Martinez’s lineup plans, particularly when it comes to Corey Dickerson, who came off the 10-day injured list Monday but has started only three games since (all against opposing right-handers).
“There’s going to be days where I like Corey better, even if it’s a lefty,” Martinez said. “It has to do with the in-game strategy, too. How many lefties do they have in their bullpen? Who’s their closer? Who’s their setup guy? A lot goes into how I think about things going forward. The thing is, we’ve got to get Corey going. He’s only got 15 at-bats. We want to make sure we get him going.”