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Strasburg Hurt as Nats Fall

It was an evening of unfortunate timing. Starter Stephen Strasburg left the game early with an injury, and the Washington Nationals (28-20) could not cash in on their many baserunners as the Cincinnati Reds (20-27) scored four late runs to win the series opener, 5-2.

Strasburg Departs Early

 It’s no secret that this season has been a tough one for Strasburg. He has a 6.55 ERA, and every talking head from sea to shining sea has speculated as to why. The long-standing theory among the most reasonable fans has been a confluence of injury and altered mechanics, and that notion seemed to be carried out today.

After a tough first inning in which he gave up a homer and some hard contact, Strasburg looked even more uncomfortable in the second, looking uncoordinated as he issued a walk to open the frame. A brief mound meeting later, he left the game with trainer Lee Kuntz. The Nationals reported postgame that the issue was left trapezius tightness, and that Strasburg will be reevaluated tomorrow.

Nats Squander Chances

As if it weren’t tough enough to win when your starter only throws one inning, the Nats did themselves no favors on offense. On the surface, their numbers were good: They grabbed ten hits, drew five talks, and were a respectable 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, sequencing is an important part of offense. Of those three RISP hits, two failed to leave the infield and only two scored runs, driving in one each. The Nats stranded 13 runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the fifth and eighth innings. Additionally, they displayed little power: Only two of those hits went for extra bases, and both were doubles.

Harper Drilled

With a runner on second and two outs in the top of the seventh, Bryce Harper came to the plate representing the tying run. But newly entered reliever Tony Cingrani missed badly on his first pitch, drilling Harper in the small of his back. One would hope both teams could handle the issue maturely, but baseball players can be petulant children sometimes.

Harper openly displayed his frustration after being hit, taking his time removing his shin guard and handing tossing it to the bench. On his way to first, he was accosted by Reds first baseman Joey Votto, and the two jawed on their way down the line until they were separated by an umpire.

Postgame, Harper described their altercation as “just having some playful conversation.” For his part, Cingrani seemed to share Votto’s sentiment, saying, “he should have jogged, but what are you going to do? Be a baseball player. Sorry I hit you, run.”

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Federal Reserve: Rizzo And The Nats Prepare For The 2015 Draft

In 11 days Major League Baseball will begin the 2015 Amateur Draft. Though the Washington Nationals do not have a first-round pick this year—a selection they forfeited by signing free agent Max Scherzer—this could still be an interesting draft for the Nats.

General manager Mike Rizzo and his scouting department have a few challenges this year. Along with their late first selection, they will have to sort through a class that is regarded as one of the weakest in recent memory. This year lacks a clear-cut top selection, while injuries to several pitching prospects—including Tommy John surgeries for IMG left-hander Brady Aiken and Duke right-hander Michael Matuella—have lowered the draft’s perceived value.

Despite those factors, history suggests that even without a big name prospect, the Nationals will be willing to spend to get the player they want. Continue reading…

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Nats Have The Best Player, Starter, and Reliever In Baseball

When the 2015 season started, there was a lot of interest in what the Washington Nationals would be able to do with an electric lineup and outstanding pitching. The team had a slow start in April, but now they not only lead the NL East by 1.5 games, but they have the best player in Bryce Harper, the best starter in Max Scherzer, and the best reliever in Drew Storen.

Continue reading…

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Scherzer Wins This Week’s Pitching Duel Of The Century

In one of the most anticipated matchups of the 2015, the Washington Nationals’ (28-19) $210 million-dollar man Max Scherzer went up against the Chicago Cubs‘ (25-21) $155 million-dollar man Jon Lester in the rubber match of a three-game set in the windy city. On a day when the flags weren’t flying out for a change, we were all treated to a clash of the titans and they certainly didn’t disappoint. In the end the Nats were able to defeat the Cubs 3-0, winning their ninth straight series (tied for the franchise best streak). Continue reading…

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Max Scherzer: Better Than Advertised

On January 21, 2015 Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo and free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer signed the contract that would make him one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball as well as the highest paid player in Nationals history. The deal came as a shock to the entirety of the baseball community, as many expected him to stay in the American League with a big market club like the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. Rizzo had added a former Cy Young award winner to a starting rotation already considered by many to be the best in baseball, knocking young stud Tanner Roark (15-10, 2.85 ERA, 1.092 WHIP in 2014) to the bullpen. Continue reading…

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Battle Of Homers Ends, Cubs Walk-Off On Double

In a close contest on Tuesday, a few key mistakes by the Washington Nationals (27-18) proved to be costly. With the Nationals making crucial blunders on the bases and in the field, the Chicago Cubs (25-20) broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the ninth to win by a final of 3-2. While Addison Russell deserves full credit for his walk-off double — the first non-home run RBI of the series — the Nationals’ performance is open to scrutiny. Continue reading…

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How Valuable Is Wilson Ramos’s Bat?

Beyond a 19 game hitting streak, Ramos has some concerning long-term trends

A healthy, productive Wilson Ramos has been the white whale of Washington Nationals fans. Ramos has shown potential in every season that he’s been a National, but a checked health history has doomed him in recent seasons.

So good health this year, a 19 game hitting streak, a .285 average and a go-ahead home run yesterday against the Cubs would seem to indicate that Ahab has found his productive catcher, correct?

Unfortunately, keep on searching, Nationals fans. Ramos has indeed looked strong at points this year, but there are several red flags looming that could send him crashing back downward toward the Mendoza line.

Continue reading…

Bryant and Harper

Bryant vs. Bryce: How Much Do The Young Phenoms Really Have In Common?

On Monday afternoon two of the most hyped young hitters will face off for the first time. Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs (24-19) will try to bounce back from a losing series, while Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals (26-18) will aim to continue their recent winning ways.

In a matchup of two players who are both on their way (if they aren’t already) to being household names, comparing them is natural. Both are first-round picks from Las Vegas. Both are touted for being young power hitters. Both are celebrated for being a light for a franchise suffering through darkness for too long.

But how similar are Bryant and Harper in reality? Continue reading…