After going 0-for-4 last night, Danny Espinosa is hitting .175 for the season.
Truth be told, several members of the Nats lineup put together some really impressive at-bats against Kershaw, from Ryan Zimmerman's 3-hit night to Adam LaRoche and Eury Perez fouling off pitch after pitch from the lefty late, driving up his pitch count to the point manager Don Mattingly had no choice but to pull his starter (at 132 pitches) with two outs in the ninth.
But in the bigger picture, the Nationals still aren't putting together enough quality at-bats on a nightly basis. Zimmerman and LaRoche certainly appear to be coming along after slow starts, Ian Desmond has been solid and Bryce Harper has carried this club offensively through much of the season's first six weeks.
But there are a couple of major holes in the lineup right now, and the biggest of them all is occupied by Danny Espinosa.
Given a chance to lead off last night and take advantage of his power prowess from the right side of the plate, Espinosa went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Those three whiffs came on a total of 11 pitches.
The Nationals have given their young second baseman plenty of rope, but how much more can they afford to offer. As the season reaches the quarter pole tonight, Espinosa is sporting a .175 batting average, .206 on-base percentage and paltry .531 OPS that ranks 171st out of 175 qualifying major-league hitters.
Perhaps most alarming about Espinosa's start to the season: He's not drawing any walks. He's got only three of them in 126 plate appearances, a pathetic 2.4 percent rate. (For comparison's sake, Espinosa's career walk rate is 7.4 percent, while the major-league average is 8.2 percent.)
One reason the Nationals have been able to stick with Espinosa during his prolonged slumps over the past couple years is his ability to still draw walks even when he's not recording base hits. But with that ability severely diminished so far this season, the rationale for continuing to play Espinosa on a daily basis is growing thin.
This is a guy, let's not forget, who is playing with a torn left rotator cuff. His total stats in 61 games since suffering the original injury on Sept. 7 (including the postseason): a .167 batting average, .222 on-base percentage, .287 slugging percentage, .509 OPS and 65 strikeouts to only 13 walks.
Is the shoulder tear the primary contributing factor to Espinosa's offensive struggles? We don't know, but it obviously can't be helping matters. And even if it has nothing to do with the slump, the fact remains that Espinosa has been producing below replacement level for quite some time now.
Yes, Espinosa's Gold Glove-caliber defense at second base makes up for a lot. But you still have to be able to hit in the big leagues, and right now he's not doing it at a big-league standard.
It might be time for Davey Johnson to consider just how much more time he's going to give Espinosa to try to get on track.