OF Bryce Harper is back in the lineup and shaking things up for the Washington Nationals. 3B Ryan Zimmerman plays great defense, but his throwing strength has been in question ever since his shoulder problems flared up. With Harper’s return to left, Nationals manager Matt Williams moved Zimmerman back to third. He has produced at the position, making a handful of tremendous stops this week, but late in the game Wednesday night, Williams took Zimmerman out, moved Anthony Rendon to third and brought Danny Espinosa in to play second.
Zimmerman was the odd man out.
The Nationals were aware that this sort of shuffling around the infield was going to be a possibility once Harper came back. Now, it appears that Zimmerman will need to get comfortable with the idea of being the flexible player. Espinosa and Rendon are both great defensive players, and the Nationals are strong with both of them in the infield. Zimmerman can still make the plays, but for how much longer?
The plus side to the lineup situation in Washington is that the Nationals do have options when it comes to moving Zimmerman, Espinosa and Rendon around. It’s better than not having enough players to adjust to a given defensive situation. The downside is that Zimmerman might see less playing time.
Going into the second half of the season, the Nationals will need their entire team healthy to make a strong postseason run. Even if that means Zimmerman coming in and out of the lineup, the team will be better off with him healthy. They need him as an option to either start or sub in any game.