WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Victor Robles was out of the starting lineup for Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers on Sunday night at Nationals Park, after an MRI revealed a mild strain in his right hamstring. Manager Dave Martinez described the injury as “very,
WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Victor Robles was out of the starting lineup for Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers on Sunday night at Nationals Park, after an MRI revealed a mild strain in his right hamstring. Manager Dave Martinez described the injury as “very, very mild” and Robles lobbied to play, but Martinez wanted to stay safe. Michael A. Taylor will bat eighth and make the start in center in Robles' place.
“We all know how Victor plays,” Martinez said prior to Game 3. “He wanted to play today, but I really believe that it's best that he just, we get him treatment, and he's going to try to ride the bike and run a little bit today and see how he feels.”
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Robles quickly became a crucial member of the Nationals in his rookie season, crashing into walls, diving all over the field and using his speed to push the envelope. He also debuted as an elite defensive center fielder, which made up most of his 4.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference. In his first three postseason games this year, he had gone 2-for-8 at the plate with a double and three strikeouts.
Robles could be available late in Game 3 to pinch-hit or run. As of Sunday, the injury was not serious enough to consider removing him from the playoff roster.
This will be Taylor's first start in this postseason for the Nationals, but he played a key role in the Nationals’ 4-3 victory over the Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game. His hit-by-pitch by reliever Josh Hader set up a three-run eighth inning that was capped by Juan Soto's go-ahead hit. Taylor is also an elite defensive center fielder in his own right, although he spent most of the season in the Minors to work on his approach at the plate.
When Taylor rejoined the Nats as a September callup, he performed well in limited action, going 6-for-12 with a homer and two stolen bases.
“For me with Michael, you really don't lose anything in center field,” Martinez said. “And he's had a really good September, so hopefully he continues to swing the bat the way he's been swinging it and go out there and play good defense.”
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.