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David Huzzard: A dichotomy of maddening inconsistency

A team doesn't end up in the position of the Nationals without more than one problem, and while most of the focus has been on an offense that has scored the second-fewest runs in the National League, there are other problems. For the month of July, the Nats offense was what most expected it to be: an offense full of streaky hitters that scored the

Ted Leavengood: A bull market analysis

The weather has been remarkably cool and crisp for late July, as if a hand reached out and parted the humid air to allow fans a better ending to the last homestand of July. On Sunday, before the team went to Detroit, there were little kids running the bases. Surprisingly, there were Nationals running them as well, and with almost as much joy and abandon.

Dave Nichols: Breakout over weekend gives hope for the stretch

The good news: The Nationals have won four of their last five games. The bad news? They trail the Braves by 8 1/2 games heading into play this week. Some more good news: The Nats still have nine games head-to-head with Atlanta before the end of the season. By getting the deficit back under that nine games, the Nats still kind of control their destiny.

Patrick Reddington: Strasburg finds his voice

Mike Rizzo has referred to Stephen Strasburg in the past as his "silent assassin," a soft-spoken, but ultra-competitive, elite athlete. The No.1 overall pick in the 2009 draft had his moments. He snapped at a reporter once who asked why he struggled against the Marlins after a tough start against the Fish and reminded everyone that he'd historically done well against Miami. Back in 2010,

Rachel Levitin: Time to light a fire under Nationals

Every weekend from April through the end of July, I play softball in a co-ed league in Glover Park, and every weekend between those months, the Nationals comes up in conversation. It's the usual fare of "Were you at that game?" or "Did you see that play?" But last weekend, my first base coach shared a thought with me that I hadn't considered yet this

David Huzzard: For Rizzo, deadline is no time to panic

With the Nats having not won a game after the All-Star break and in the midst of a 2-10 stretch, there are many looking at the Nationals as sellers. The only problem is the Nats don't have a lot to sell, and that isn't because they don't have talent. Any contending team would love to have Jordan Zimmermann, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Gio

Ted Leavengood: Nats need to find a straw to stir the drink

Reggie Jackson famously described his presence on the Yankees and other teams as "the straw that stirs the drink." In his 1984 autobiography, he said, "if the other ingredients were there ... if the mix was just about right, I could make the difference." The Washington Nationals desperately need that kind of presence in their lineup. It has been showing all along, but Davey Johnson

Dave Nichols: Nationals have 10 days to decide whether or not they're contenders

The Nationals were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in their first series back from the All-Star break, losing close ballgames Friday and Saturday, while having their lunch handed to them Sunday, with Jordan Zimmermann getting rocked for seven earned runs in two innings. It's the stuff of nightmares for a team that needs to win just about every series from here on out to

Win opportunity to throw out first pitch at Nats Park

If you haven't seen it yet, check out this first pitch thrown out by singer Carly Rae Jepsen at Tropicana Field a few nights ago. (Spoiler alert: It's terrible.) After watching this, you're probably thinking: I could throw a better first pitch than that. Well, MASN is giving you the chance to show off your arm at Nats Park! One lucky winner playing MASN's "Touch

Patrick Reddington: Top five second-half storylines for Nationals

The second half begins tonight when the Nationals host the Los Angeles Dodgers. Here are the top five storylines to keep track of during the remainder of the 2013 season: 5. Krol and Abad: The Nationals started the season with a right-handrf-heavy bullpen they thought could handle left-handed hitters. The Nats continued to add left-handed pitchers to the mix in the organization throughout the offseason,

Osceola County commissioners delay Kissimmee stadium vote until Aug. 19

The Osceola County Board of Commissioners met tonight to discuss whether to proceed with a $98 million proposal to construct a new spring training facility for the Nationals in Kissimmee, Fla., but delayed until Aug. 19 a vote on the matter. By delaying the vote for slightly more than a month, reported the Orlando Sentinel, the commissioners will allow taxpayers, opponents of the proposed complex

Marty Niland: Home cooking will be crucial to Nats' stretch run

Even after Sunday's 5-2 extra-inning win over the Marlins, it's hard to describe the Nationals as doing anything but limping into the All-Star break with a 48-47 record. However, the Nats still have a chance to take advantage of a post-break schedule that's loaded with home games, division opponents - and for the most part - kinder, gentler road trips. After starting July with a

New-look lineup produces early lead (Nats win 5-2, back over .500)

Well, that didn't take long. The Nationals' new-look lineup has staked rookie right-hander Taylor Jordan to a 1-0 lead in the second, courtesy of an RBI double by Denard Span. Adam LaRoche led off the frame with a single off Henderson Alvarez and, after Ian Desmond struck out, Denard split the gap in right-center to put the Nationals on the scoreboard. It's early, but a

Trying to avoid sweep in Miami, Johnson juggles lineup

If you're one of those people who gives a cursory glance to a game's lineup, here's a warning: Get ready to blink, rub your eyes and react with general surprise when you see the batting order Nationals manager Davey Johnson has penned for today's first-half finale in Miami. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Johnson - a manager who really likes the sameness of

Patrick Reddington: Will Danny Espinosa be back?

Danny Espinosa was 6-for-64 with 33 strikeouts over his first 19 games after he was sent to Triple-A Syracuse by the Nationals. Espinosa, 26, was initially placed on the disabled list and, after a minor league rehab stint, was optioned to the Chiefs on June 19. As Nats general manage Mike Rizzo explained at that point, in an interview on 106.7 the Fan, the 2008

Nationals' Kissimmee plans appear back on track

Just when it seemed like the Nationals' long trek toward a new spring training home had gained some traction, there are indications that the team's hopes for a new complex in Kissimmee, Fla., may have encountered an unexpected road block. According to this blog from the Orlando Business Journal, Osceola County has temporarily tabled talks on construction of a new two-team complex that would house

Rachel Levitin: Harper's All-Star turn shouldn't obscure spotlight on Zimmermann

A lot of the All-Star Game chatter concerning the Nationals this year will be focused on Bryce Harper - and for good reason. It makes sense given the context of the scenario, his age, and the debate of whether or not he should be hitting in the Home Run Derby. But all of that aside, I think people need to shine a little more light

David Huzzard: How the Nationals can play catch-up

Coming off of a four-game winning streak the Nationals have dropped the first two in a four-game series to Philadelphia and there is nothing to worry about. But because it is D.C., people are going to worry. After this weekend, the Nationals suddenly found themselves only four games back from the Braves in the division, after the Braves lost two of three to the Phillies,

Ian Desmond ditches goatee between innings

Between innings, players will get a drink of water, talk to teammates or grab a fresh piece of gum. Ian Desmond shaves his goatee. In the first inning of tonight's game against the Phillies, Desmond - and his goatee - walked up to the plate and then promptly grounded into a double play. By the time the third inning arrived, MASN cameras showed a clean-shaven

Bryce Harper named to Home Run Derby

With just 1 1/2 years of big league experience under his belt, Bryce Harper has accomplished quite a bit in a short amount of time. In his first season alone, Harper was named to the National League All-Star team and was named NL Rookie of the Year. He's followed that up this season by winning a starting outfield spot in the All-Star Game, despite missing

Not everyone happy to see Harper in Home Run Derby

Denizens of Natstown were pleased that Bryce Harper was voted into the starting outfield at the All-Star Game, no small achievement considering No. 34 has spent so much time on the disabled list recovering from left knee bursitis, which may or may not be related to his frequent run-ins with outfield walls with varying degrees of give. And D.C. was giddy yesterday when the Mets'

Ted Leavengood: A closer look at the Lannan-Haren fight

In one corner, there was the champ - or at least the one who was supposed to make the Nationals World Series contenders. Dan Haren stood there weighing in at a cool $13 million. In the other corner was John Lannan - dispatched twice last season by general manager Mike Rizzo as a pretender - weighing in at a paltry $2.5 million. Rarely does a

Marty Niland: With All-Star start, Harper joins elite company

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper made history last season when he became the youngest position player selected to the All-Star Game at the age of 19, and he's doing it again with his second appearance at 20. Not only will Harper be the youngest position player ever to start for the National League, he is also the first National to be selected to the team twice.

Desmond vying for NL All-Star nod in the Final Vote

There are always a few surprises when the All-Star teams are announced. It's simple math, really - too many deserving players, not enough spots. The need to make sure each National League team is represented is one complicating factor. So is the fact that some positions are just too heavy with potential representatives, while others are thin. The Nationals had two players chosen to the

Patrick Reddington: Wilson Ramos is still the future behind the plate

The plan at the start of the season was for Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos to split the catching duties while Ramos recovered from the devastating knee injury that brought an abrupt end to his 2012 campaign. Ramos was 25 games into his second full season with Washington after the Nationals acquired the highly regarded backstop from the Minnesota Twins in a deadline deal in

Win exclusive Nationals prizes with MASN's "Touch 'Em All" social loyalty program

When you're watching a ballgame at Nationals Park or on MASN, do you ever find yourself checking your Twitter or Instagram? Maybe you're signed up for our text message alerts so you know when the Nats hit a big home run. When Ryan Zimmerman or Ian Desmond smack a ball out of Nats Park or glove a tough line drive in the infield, do you

Nationals relish Ramos' breakout in his return

Few players are as well-liked in the Nationals clubhouse as catcher Wilson Ramos, whose teammates see a warrior in their catcher. Nothing has dulled Ramos' enthusiasm to play, excel and contribute - not his publicized kidnapping incident in his native Venezuela two offseasons ago, not the freak knee injury and subsequent surgery that cost him most of 2012, and not the two trips to the

Long rehab behind him, Ramos eager to get back to work

Catching a new pitcher for the first time might seem like a challenge. For Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who returned from the disabled list today to form a battery with rookie right-hander Taylor Jordan, the new alignment might help keep his mind off the left hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup since May 15. "It was a long rehab for me. ...

Ramos returns for finale vs. Brewers

Wilson Ramos has been activated from the 15-day disabled list and will catch rookie Taylor Jordan for today's 11:05 a.m. finale of a four-game series against the Brewers at Nationals Park. Ramos has been out since May 15 with a left hamstring strain, an injury which has twice landed him on the DL this season. Today's lineup sees shortstop Ian Desmond move into the second

Rachel Levitin: Continuing my Fourth of July tradition at Nats Park

Happy Fourth of July from Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.! It wasn't always the case, but attending baseball games at Nats Park on Independence Day has become a tradition of mine. While I've lived in the District since 2005, I've been able to watch the Nationals as they've developed since their inception. It's been a staple of my summers. Just as being at Nats Park

David Huzzard: Too early to judge impact of Harper's return

Baseball is not a momentum sport. Score 13 one night, 10 the next and then get shut out. The only thing predictable about baseball is that on any given night it is unpredictable. The best player on the team will go 0-for-4, while a fill-in scrub has a career night, and all of this is why no one analyzing the game puts any merit into

Ted Leavengood: On NL mounds, youth being served

Watching Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler pitch for the New York Mets this past weekend, one has to be concerned about the quality arms that are sprouting like weeds around the National League. The Nationals still have the best threesome of starting pitchers in the NL, but the performance gap is narrowing. The Nationals avoided Jeff Locke in their first series against the Pirates, but

Marty Niland: At the midpoint, a mid-season Nationals report card

The halfway point of the season is an ideal time to take stock of what the Nationals have accomplished so far and what they need to improve. Here are the grades so far: Starting Pitching: B-plus. Jordan Zimmermann (11-3, 2.28 ERA) is the main reason the Nats are still in contention in the National League East. He has accounted for 11 of their 41 wins

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