Posted on June 19, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Washington Nationals just can’t seem to stay healthy. Tuesday, first baseman Matt Adams became the latest player the Nationals were forced to put on the 10-day DL. Adams suffered a broken left index finger on Friday when he was struck by a pitch from Blue Jays ace Aaron Sanchez. His injury gives the Nationals 11 players on the DL.
Adams was a bit of an afterthought at the start of the season. He was looked at as a part-time player and insurance in case Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t replicate his stellar production from last season. But with Zimmerman now being on the DL for more than a month with an oblique strain, Adams has needed to play more than the Nationals expected heading into the season.
More importantly, Adams has answered the call. He’s currently hitting .275 with 13 home runs and seven doubles, helping him produce an OPS of .926. With Bryce Harper hitting .212 despite 19 home runs, Adams has arguably been Washington’s best offensive player this year. Prior to the injury, he seemed likely to get a majority of the at-bats at first base even Zimmerman returns.
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“It’s a big loss to us, obviously,” said Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. “He’s played extremely well, against right-handed pitchers especially. But this guy’s been great for us all season, as important a player as probably any we’ve had all season. For him to go down, it’s a big blow to us.”
Initially, X-rays on Adams’ finger were inconclusive. The Nationals hoped that once the pain went away he’d be able to return to the lineup. However, X-rays performed Monday indicate a fracture of his index finger. Nationals manager Dave Martinez described it as a “slight fracture.” However, Rizzo says Adams won’t be able to play until the bone has healed. At this point, the team has no timeline for when Adams may be able to return.
In the meantime, Mark Reynolds and Daniel Murphy will share responsibilities at first base. As expected, Reynolds has done a lot of damage against left-handed pitching this season. He has also hit five of his six home runs against right-handed pitchers, despiting only batting .205 against righties. Murphy, meanwhile, just returned from the DL last week. As he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, first base may be a little easier on him physically than second base.
Despite having a couple viable options to replace Adams at first base, it’s hard for the Nationals not to lament the injuries that have befallen them this year. No part of their team has been immune from the injury bug. Nevertheless, Washington has done a good job of persevering. The Nationals began Tuesday 3.5 games out of first place in the NL East. If they can ever get fully healthy, they will undoubtedly be a team to watch closely in the National League.
“At this point in time, we’re used to it,” Rizzo said of the team’s injuries. “We’re just going to muddle through it and grind through. The one thing it’s taught me is this team is as tough-minded as I’ve ever seen and ever been associated with. We’ll find a way to win baseball games and get to our goal, and that’s win the National League East again.”