Nationals trying to 'tread water' until big bats return to lineup


As much trouble as the Nationals' bullpen has caused them, they're still within a stone's throw away of the Phillies for second in the NL East after Tuesday.

Second baseman Brian Dozier, hitting just .179, has been slow out of the gate in his debut season with the club, but has shown signs he's heating up. Although he went hitless in four at-bats in Tuesday's 6-3 win over the Rockies, the 31-year-old averaged .278 with three homers, a double and five RBI over his previous 21 plate appearances.

Ryan Zimmerman's bat may be waking up, too. He's hitting .353 with two homers, a pair of doubles and three RBI over his last 19 plate appearances.

"They're professional hitters. They've been through the rigors many times," Mike Rizzo told The Junkies during his weekly appearance, presented by Burke & Herbert Bank. "They're certainly not panicking."

"You look at Brian Dozier and his track record over his career, you know he's a very slow starter," he said. "His April OPS is the lowest out of any month that he has all season and usually ends up with his typical numbers. And that's kind of what we're looking for, just to put up typical Brian Dozier numbers. I think that'll be impactful for us.

The numbers check out. Dozier has a lifetime .685 OPS in the months of March/April over his seven-year MLB career. He typically warms up in May (.727 OPS) and then springs to life in June (.825).

"If [Zimmerman's] healthy, we know what we can expect from him if he plays his 135 to 140 games this season," Rizzo said. "We're confident that he'll do what he does. I think the rest of the lineup will kind of fall into place after that. Soto hasn't really got on a roll yet. Rendon was really, really hot and then he's gonna be out, sidelined for a little bit. Trea Turner, one of the best offensive players in the league, is gonna miss an extended period of time.

"We need to tread water and we need to have our depth come through with the Wilmer Difos and the Howie Kendricks and the Jake Nolls of the world, that you can plug them in there and win some games and that's exactly what we're trying to do."

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