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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…

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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…

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Gonzalez, Clutch Hitters Send Nats To Series Win

Doomsayers, do not fret. On Sunday afternoon in front of a sell-out crowd, the Washington Nationals (26-18) proved that their unseemly 8-1 loss on Saturday was simply a bump in the road. They beat the fourth-place Philadelphia Phillies (19-27), 4-1, and continued their steady ascent above the second-place New York Mets. With the win, the Nats earned their eighth straight series victory and will hit the road with a 4-1 home stand propelling them forward. Continue reading…

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Strasburg Struggles As Nats’ Win Streak Screeches To Halt

After six straight wins filled with nothing but fantastic offense and lights-out pitching, the Washington Nationals (28-18) had an off day. They were everything that they had not been in their recent win streak when they faced off against the Philadelphia Phillies (19-26) at home. Continue reading…

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Harper Homers Yet Again, Nats Take Down Phillies

Two runs was enough for the Washington Nationals (25-17) on Friday. Thanks to a sixth-inning double by Ian Desmond, the Nationals broke a 1-1 tie and defeated the Philadelphia Phillies (18-26) by a final of 2-1. With that rally, the Nationals secured a win for Max Scherzer, who is continuing his season-long dominance. Continue reading…

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Federal Reserve: Difo Highlights Dominican Influences In Nats Farm System

In the wake of Wilmer Difo’s promotion to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, The Washington Post’s James Wagner shared an important fact via Twitter. As Wagner correctly noted, Difo is the first homegrown prospect signed out of the Dominican Republic to make the Nationals’ 25-man roster since the Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez scandal.

The incident Wagner refers to is one that drastically reshaped the Nationals. Gonzalez was a shortstop prospect signed by the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2006 for a $1.4 million bonus. In February 2009, Sports Illustrated reported that Gonzalez’s true identity was in fact Carlos David Alvarez Lugo and that he was three years older than initially believed. As a result, general manager Jim Bowden resigned, Jose Rijo—the head of the organization’s Dominican operations—was fired, and the Nationals had to completely rebuild their Dominican Republic operations.

They became far more cautious in their international spending efforts. In fact, the Nationals did not come close to approaching the bonus they gave to Alvarez—who remained in the organization through 2013—until they signed third base prospect Anderson Franco for $900,000 just two years ago.

It is clear that the Nationals are now more measured and cautious in their international free agent decisions, but that level of restraint has not hurt the organization. In fact, Difo is preceding a wave of intriguing Dominican prospects to the majors. Continue reading…