Against a tough Pirates squad looking to fight their way back into the playoff picture, Tanner Roark turned in yet another impressive outing Saturday night. Although he couldn’t quite go the distance, he did turn in eight scoreless innings in the Nationals’ win. The Pirates struggled to even put together anything that could resemble a rally while Roark was on the mound. Pittsburgh can at least take some solace in the fact that they haven’t been the only team to struggle against Roark in 2016. He’s been on a tear since his first outing in 2016 and now holds an ERA under 3.00.
Sequels can’t all be better than their originals, but any sequel that ends with Bryce Harper and Kayla Varner married is one worth seeing in theaters twice.
The midway point through a baseball season can signal arguments concerning one game in 162. Like squirrels know when to start storing nuts for winter, baseball people know when to start picking fights about the All Star Game’s mandated importance. With the feuds come trying baseball-less nights. But the absence of baseball comes with a built in distraction of extra, well, off-field stuff.
The All Star Game has come and gone and the Nationals kick off the second half of the season with an impressive six-game lead in the NL East. There have been a lot of ups and downs getting to that six game lead. Some players have clearly gone above and beyond expectations while others have frustratingly fallen short. Let’s figure out who those under/over performers are so far this Nationals season.
While not necessarily falling at the zenith of the season, this week marks the traditional midway point of the MLB regular season; the All-Star Break. It includes the time-honored tradition of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, all culminating in the 87th MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. During this four-day-long excruciating hiatus without any meaningful baseball (but this one counts!) the 89.5% of MLB players who aren’t All-Stars take this time to go on vacation while the rest head to San Diego for this “showcase”.
Entering this season, it was seen as a fait accompli that the Nationals would call up Trea Turner to start at shortstop on May 31, when it would be assured that the team would have an extra year of contractual control on the young shortstop. Danny Espinosa “won” the job in the spring, but he was simply a placeholder, intended to keep the six spot warm until the rookie arrived.
It was revealed Friday afternoon that San Diego’s native son Stephen Strasburg will not pitch in the All-Star Game in his hometown as a cautionary step after coming off the disabled list earlier in July. Given that fact, Strasburg simply decided to put on his All-Star show a few days early in a 3-1 win over the New York Mets.
I cannot believe I am asking this question. How far have we come as a fan base where we can even consider missing a player like Jonathan Papelbon? I was at the exhibition game in Nats Park this year. You know the one, the first time Nats fans got to greet Papelbon after choking out the MVP in the dugout last year. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. A good number of fans cheered to support our closer, and a healthy majority – to put it nicely – let him know how they felt.
Danny Espinosa recorded 15 RBIs against the Cincinnati Reds this week, landing him tied for third most in a four-game series. Espinosa’s feat has as much inspiration and charm as a picture of Joe Biden in aviators eating an ice cream cone. On its good weeks, baseball doesn’t just impart inspiration and charm on the field, but off it too.