New Nats lineup looks familiar to Werth

New Nats lineup looks familiar to Werth
April 11, 2013, 8:15 am
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Nats beat White Sox after brief delay

Whether you are a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies or not, it’s hard to deny the fact they had a pretty good run from 2007 through 2011. They were one of the best baseball clubs in recent memory, won five consecutive division titles and a World Series. They were essentially a few injuries and a nine-pitch Johnny Damon at-bat from perhaps being a legitimate dynasty. 

So if you loved them or loathed them, having your team compared to them should come as a compliment. And as a big piece of those Philly glory days, Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth is starting to see similarities between his former and current clubs.

Werth has compared hitting behind Nats leadoff hitter Denard Span to when he used to follow Jimmy Rollins, as both players are patient at the plate, speedy, and get on base. But this week he took the comparison further, citing the new-look Nats lineup’s ability to take pitches and push opposing pitchers late into games.

“I think there was one year where Chase [Utley], me, and Ryan [Howard] were in the top five for pitches seen. That was 3, 4, 5, I was hitting fifth. So by the time you get to the middle of the order, you’ve thrown more pitches over the course of the season to those three than any one else in the league.” 

“It makes it tough on the other team. It makes it tough on the starter, it gets you into the bullpen. It gets you to see that sixth inning guy, that seventh inning guy, those are the guys you want to see. Those are the guys that you can do damage on. They’re usually pitching the sixth and seventh inning for a reason. They’re usually saving their nastiest guys for the eighth and the ninth.”

The year Werth was referring to was 2009 when the Phillies lost in the World Series, their second appearance in the final round in two seasons. That year he, Howard, and Utley finished second, fifth, and sixth in the majors in pitches seen. Also in the top 30 were Ryan Zimmerman and Denard Span.

Werth once again finds himself in one of the majors’ deepest lineups, and perhaps one of its most patient as well.

“I don’t know how many pitches Denard has seen throughout his career, but I’m right up there with pitches seen. So you have two guys like that at the top of the lineup and by the time you get to Harp and Zimm and LaRoche, you’ve thrown a lot of pitches,” he said. 

“That takes a toll, chances are you’re not going to be as sharp. You might leave one over the plate, you might leave one up, and with the guys that we have hitting 3, 4, 5, 6, those guys can do damage to pitchers like that.”