Since his call-up, Anthony Rendon has been everything the Washington Nationals expected when they drafted him sixth overall in 2011. Rendon has come up and hit like a 15-year veteran, working counts, taking close pitches, batting .392 since his second call-up and getting on base at a .402 clip. Yes, that was typed correctly — .402.
As we now know, Bryce Harper is currently in Potomac on a rehab assignment and has played three innings and six innings in a game, but has not played in the field yet. His bat hasn’t gone away, as Harper has a double and a home run in two rehab games.
The thought is that Harper may be back next week when Washington returns home to face the Milwaukee Brewers, but with the way he is hitting, Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson may just want Harper to play a full game both ways, see how his knee responds and bring him back. Although with Washington’s offense scoring enough all of a sudden, there probably is not a huge rush to bring Harper back.
Washington has won five of its last seven games, and could have both the outfielder and catcher Wilson Ramos back by next week, which brings in an interesting dynamic.
What will happen to Washington’s lineup when Harper comes back?
Jayson Werth had been consistently at the top of Washington’s lineup since coming to Washington because of what Rendon is currently doing: getting on base, working long counts, seeing a lot of pitches and setting up for the meat of the order. But with Rendon hitting the way he is, how does Johnson remove Rendon from the two-hole?
Presumably, he can’t because the rookie is crushing him in OBP (.402 to .328) along with the fact that Davey is an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of guy. This also allows him to move a veteran hitter in Werth down in the lineup in more of a run-producing position.
If I’m Johnson, this is my lineup card when everyone is healthy:
1. Denard Span CF
2. Rendon 2B
3. Harper LF
4. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
5. Adam LaRoche 1B
6. Jayson Werth RF
7. Ian Desmond SS
8. Wilson Ramos C
That lineup provides balance at the top, and there really is not a hole I can see, unless one of those hitters is slumping. This lineup will work counts and all have long at-bats.