No jinx, but the Nationals are inching closer to officially locking up a playoff spot. The sizable lead the team owns in the NL East allows the Nationals to be smart about playing time down the stretch. Joe Ross needs time to build up arm strength? Let him get as many rehab starts as possible. Stephen Strasburg isn’t 100%? Skip one more start just to be safe. The relief pitchers, though, still have something to play for: a spot on the playoff roster.
On Saturday, our esteemed Erin Flynn noted on SI.com that the Washington Nationals are receiving plenty of reinforcements from their farm system. Trea Turner has lived up to his expectations, and the Nationals were recently helped by a solid start from A.J. Cole.
One player Erin mentioned, however, stands out: reliever Koda Glover. Between the majors and the minors this year, the hard-throwing right-hander has been consistently dominant, making a case that the Nationals should rely on him for the postseason.
The “dog days” of August are stupid, mostly because they are misleading and provide no extra dogs for petting or looking at on the feeds of Nationals players’ instagrams. What I’m trying to say is the Nats were relatively quiet this week on social media, but there was lots of on-ish, but technically off, field stuff to takes its place. Max Scherzer protested Jayson Werth’s freedom, Mark Melancon discovered GIFs, and Shawn Kelley became a campaign manager.
Trea Turner has taken the big leagues by storm. Coming into Tuesday night’s game against the Phillies, Turner was hitting .341/.361/.538 with 17 stolen bases before tacking on two more hits and a stolen base. Over those 42 games, he’s already accumulated 2.1 WAR, according to Fangraphs. It’s obviously early in Turner’s career, but those early returns suggest that Turner is set for a long career in the big leagues.
Baby humans, baby dogs, and gold medals are probably among the world’s greatest natural healers. The Nationals dropped four games in a row this week, once again leaving the burden of healing on off-field things.
In a move to bolster the bullpen and fry spell checks across the DC Metro area, the Nationals traded for the Athletics’ Marc “Scrabble” Rzepczynski. (Control-C, Control-V.) Rzepczynski gives Dusty Baker another left-handed reliever in the pen, something the team was hurting for with Sammy Solis on the DL and Oliver Perez battling nagging injuries and a bout of ineffectiveness. To acquire Rzepczynski, Mike Rizzo had to trade away prospect Max Schrock and send Reynaldo Lopez back to the minors to make room.
The assumption has been always been that Bryce Harper is and should be a baseball player, but Wednesday night Katie Ledecky may have revealed his true calling upon discovering just how good he is at proudly displaying Ledecky’s five Olympic medals, the proof of her mermaid-dom.
Fresh off dominating and demoralizing the souls of the best swimmers in the world at the Rio Olympics, Ledecky — a Maryland native and likely a descendant of Ariel herself — took on Nats Park to throw out the first pitch. After decorating Harper with the medals like the Christmas tree he was always meant to be, Ledecky threw a strike that would at the very least have Michael Taylor swinging, with Harper standing tall next to her.
Jayson Werth’s record-setting on-base streak came to an end over the weekend. He set the Nationals’ team record, surpassing Ryan Zimmerman, and tied the franchise record of 46 games, set by Expo Rusty Staub. After Werth’s slow start to the year, the streak served as a reminder of the impact Werth can still have on this team.
Life is full of surprises. It’s also full of things that aren’t surprising. One of the things that has recently moved into the latter category is the Nationals crushing the collective soul of the Atlanta Braves. Friday night’s 7-6 win – keyed off by a two-out Clint Robinson RBI single in the ninth inning – is only the latest in what has become a pattern of dominance exerted by the Nats over their division rivals.
This week’s Nationals’ schedule had far fewer off-days than last, but the team was still able to squeeze in a few off-field exploits. Danny Espinosa’s dog was reunited with a best friend, Mike Maddux was introduced to his doppleganger, and Sammy Solis switched things up to play softball.