Nats' Zimmerman set to return vs. Braves (Jun 13, 2017)
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker likes to wait one extra day when a position player tells him he is ready to be in the starting lineup.
That is the case involving Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who felt he would be ready to play Monday against the Atlanta Braves.
Baker held him out of the series opener, but he hopes to have Zimmerman start on Tuesday against the Braves in the middle game of the three-game set.
Baker noted that veteran Atlanta knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (4-4, 4.73 ERA) is slated to start Tuesday against the Nationals and right-hander Joe Ross (3-2, 6.16).
"(Zimmerman) is doing better. He is doing a lot better," Baker said Monday. "I just decided to wait until tomorrow."
And Baker had an interesting take on Zimmerman coming back against Dickey.
"He doesn't have to rotate (on his swing) quite as violently to catch up with his fastest pitcher," Baker said. "Hopefully he can be in there."
Zimmerman is 12-for-36 (.333) in his career against Dickey with two homers. The Nationals' current hitters have an average of .289 in 194 at-bats against the right-hander. The best Washington hitter against Dickey is Jayson Werth (.448 in 29 at-bats), but the veteran outfielder is on the disabled list with a foot injury.
Dickey is 4-8 with a 3.86 ERA in 18 games, with 16 starts, in his career against Washington. Ross is 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA in three career starts against the Braves.
Ross is coming off a stellar start on Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles, when he struck out 12 while throwing 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball. He was hit hard in each of his previous two outings, yielding a total of 12 runs (11 earned) on 19 hits in seven innings.
Both Dickey and Ross probably didn't like watching the game Monday, as the Braves hit five homers in an 11-10 win while the Nationals went deep three times. Matt Adams belted two homers for Atlanta.
Washington (38-25) lost its fourth in a row while Atlanta (28-35) snapped a three-game skid.
The Nationals made another move Monday to aid their overworked and underperforming bullpen, as right-hander Trevor Gott was called up from Triple-A Syracuse. He pitched in nine games for the Nationals last year. Infielder Wilmer Difo was optioned to the minors.
Washington owns thehighest bullpen ERA in the National League. So why did the Nationals call up Gott, who was not used Monday?
"It is pretty self-explanatory unless you need my quotes behind it," a testy Baker said Monday. "We are in a consecutive streak of days (played). Yesterday, we didn't have a couple of guys available."
He was referring to relievers Enny Romero and Matt Albers, who both pitched Monday, with Albers giving up the game-winning homer in the ninth to Tyler Flowers.
So with rookie closer Koda Glover on the disabled list, how will Baker handle the ninth inning?
"It has been a case-by-case basis every day," Baker said. "It was like that before Koda (got hurt)."
Baker said he tries not to berate his relievers when they fail late in games.
"You are dealing with different athletes in a different era," he said. "It was more yelling and screaming (back in the 1970s)."