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Patrick Reddington: The Nationals’ once and future closer

In 6 2/3 innings pitched this spring, 26-year-old former Nationals closer Drew Storen gave up nine hits, six walks and six earned runs (8.10 ERA) with opposing hitters posting a .310 batting average against him in Grapefruit League action. Storen endured a tough 2013 campaign in which he was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse for a stretch before returning to finish strong with 19 1/3

Opposite dugout: Injury-depleted Rangers still finding ways to win

Manager: Ron Washington, eighth year Record: 28-26 Last 10 games: 7-3 Who to watch: LF Shin-Soo Choo (.297/.423/.465, 6 HR, 18 RBIs); RF Alex Rios (.325/.356/.486, 22 XBH, 29 RBIs, 10 SB); RHP Yu Darvish (4-2, 2.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP); RHP Nick Tepesch (2-0, 2.95 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) Season series vs. Nats (2013): Did not play Pitching probables May 30: Colby Lewis vs. Stephen Strasburg,

David Huzzard: An early look at the Nats as sellers

The trade deadline is a little over two months away, and as with anything in baseball when there is a deadline, nothing will happen until it is upon us. With the Nationals two games under .500 and falling further out of the playoff race every day, the question of if the Nats are going to be sellers at the trade deadline should be asked, and

Harper, Rendon have ground to make up in NL All-Star balloting

The first update on the National League All-Star voting was released on Wednesday, and two Nationals are in the running for starting gigs on July 15. As voted by fans, Nats second baseman Anthony Rendon and Nats outfielder Bryce Harper are both in the mix on the first ballot, but they have some ground to make up before being pinned as NL starters. Rendon sits

Ask Matt: It’s the fans’ turn

There’s a few things that have changed since our first edition of Ask Matt. For starters, we’ve moved from Matt Williams’ office to the media room. According to Williams, this move will be permanent if the Nationals start a winning streak tonight. Not that the skipper is superstitious or anything ... On top of the location switch, we have redirected control of the blog to

Rachel Levitin: Should Nats experiment with Zimmerman at second?

Tuesday night’s rainout that left a game postponed between the Nationals and Miami Marlins gave a lackluster D.C. offense a night off from its recent mediocrity. No matter the combination manager Matt Williams attempts to string together this season, a list of injuries to key pieces of the Nats’ offensive puzzle is plaguing this team. June is days away, the starting rotation is down a

Stuart Wallace: Retooling repertoire has returned Clippard to shutdown form

Tyler Clippard’s start to the season was about as unceremonious and odious as they come: Through 6 2/3 innings over seven appearances through April 11, the typically steadfast Nationals reliever scuffled through two home runs, a blown save, a 5.40 ERA and a minus-1.18 RE24. This had many shaking their heads in disbelief, calling for his demotion or at least questioning whether four consecutive seasons

Opposite dugout: Second-place Fish field one of NL’s best offenses, but own majors’ worst road record

Manager: Mike Redmond, second year Record: 26-25 Last 10 games: 5-5 Who to watch: RF Giancarlo Stanton (.307/.398/.599, 14 HR, 12 doubles, 47 RBIs); 1B Garrett Jones (.274/.343/.497, 8 HR, 13 doubles, 25 RBIs); CF Marcell Ozuna (.261/.307/.443, 9 HR, 31 RBIs); RHP Tom Koehler (4-4, 3.10 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) Season series vs. Nats: 1-5, 24 runs scored, 39 runs against Pitching probables May 26:

Patrick Reddington: Is A.J. Cole the Nationals’ next big thing?

Two unearned runs scored on a bases-loaded error by Harrisburg Senators third baseman Adrian Sanchez and two more on came in on a two-out RBI double later in the sixth inning of last night’s game in Arm and Hammer Park in Trenton, N.J., where the Senators beat the Trenton Thunder 6-4 with a five-run comeback in the top of the ninth inning. A.J. Cole, 22,

David Huzzard: Nationals reaching a critical juncture

There is some solace in the fact that a team that has had its opening day lineup on the field for all of three innings and has relied largely on backups is only 1 1/2 games back of the division lead, but how much longer can backups be expected to tread water? The injury to Wilson Ramos was one the Nationals were built to withstand.

Opposite dugout: Pirates still seeking form that got them to playoffs a year ago

Manager: Clint Hurdle, fourth year Record: 19-26 Last 10 games: 4-6 Who to watch: CF Andrew McCutchen (.317/.436/.488, 18 XBH, 21 RBIs); 2B Neil Walker (.257/.333/.446, 9 HR, 25 RBIs); RHP Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.84 ERA); RHP Charlie Morton (0-6, 3.45 ERA) Season series vs. Nats (2013): 4-3, 31 runs scored, 29 runs against Pitching probables May 22: Edinson Volquez vs. Blake Treinen, 7 p.m.,

Ryan Zimmerman’s fifth annual A Night at the Park to take place June 16

On Monday, June 16, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will host his fifth annual A Night at the Park, presented by MASN. In addition to silent and live auctions, country singers Billy Currington and Jerrod Niemann will perform at the fundraiser. The event will raise money for Zimmerman’s charity, the ziMS Foundation, which is dedicated to the treatment and the ultimate cure of Multiple Sclerosis.

Stuart Wallace: Examining the changes leading to Storen’s resurgence

It has been a superlative-laden start to 2014 for reliever Drew Storen - and a start that has also seen the righthander’s performance at an all-time high. While the sample size is still small--15 1/3 innings pitched--the hot start has Storen amassing a 30.9 percent strikeout rate, 3.6 percent walk rate, 93 percent left on base percentage and a 2.10 fielding independent pitching, all of

Hide your Lean Cuisines from Stephen Strasburg

Why should Bryce Harper have all the fun? ESPN today unveiled a new “This is SportsCenter” commercial featuring Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. Like most of the network’s spots, it has a humorous bent, placing usually stoic Strasburg in the ESPN cafeteria while anchor Bram Weinstein rifles through the refrigerator searching for his Lean Cuisine. What happened to Weinstein’s glazed turkey tenderloins (words I never thought

Opposite dugout: Reds rotation looks to carry underachieving squad past Nats

Manager: Bryan Price, first year Record: 19-23 Last 10 games: 4-6 Who to watch: 1B Joey Votto (.257/.410/.449, 6 HR, 12 RBIs); 3B Todd Frazier (.258/.327/.470, 7 HR, 21 RBIs); RHP Johnny Cueto (4-2, 1.25 ERA, 0.71 WHIP); RHP Alfredo Simon (5-2, 2.45 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) Season series vs. Nats (2013): 3-4, 36 runs scored, 27 runs allowed Pitching probables May 19: Mike Leake vs.

Marty Niland: With rotation dinged again, Nats need quality starts - and good luck

Another week, another key injury for the Nationals. This time it’s Gio Gonzalez, who landed on the disabled list of for the first time in his seven-year career after being knocked around for a second straight start. If you’re keeping score at home, that makes eight members of the opening day roster who have been sidelined at some point this season, including two from the

Successful Social Media Weekend wraps up at Nats Park

Social media is more than just a place for us to update you with the latest Nationals news. For sports fans, social media platforms have created a community, a place where people can come together and talk about the latest headlines, stats, prospects and more. At MASN, we love seeing loyal Nats fans check in with us night in and night out on various social

Patrick Reddington: Nats need Desmond to get back on track

Ian Desmond is one of three Nationals to play in all 40 games so far this season. Unlike right fielder Jayson Werth (.304/.391/.453) and second/third baseman Anthony Rendon (.282/.312/.479), the other two Nats to play in all 40, the 28-year-old shortstop has struggled at the plate (.226/.275/.368), while committing a major league-leading 10 errors. With the primary backup at short, Danny Espinosa, pressed into everyday

Opposite dugout: Mets look to make mark in NL East with weekend series in Washington

Manager: Terry Collins, fourth year Record: 19-21 Last 10 games: 4-6 Who to watch: 2B Daniel Murphy (.317/.364/.460, 16 XBH, 17 RBIs, 9 SB); 3B David Wright (.282/.326/.376, 2 HR, 25 RBIs); LHP Jon Niese (2-2, 2.17 ERA, 1.07 WHIP); RHP Bartolo Colon (2-5, 5.84 ERA) Season series vs. Nats: 0-3, 10 runs scored, 22 runs allowed Pitching probables May 16: Jon Niese vs. Tanner

David Huzzard: Time to let pitching carry injured Nats

With Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper out, the Nationals are missing three of their best hitters, and in the cases of LaRoche and Zimmerman, they are missing the two highest OPS players on the team. While the addition of Kevin Frandsen, the emergence of Zach Walters and the resurgence of Danny Espinosa have improved the Nationals bench with so many key offensive weapons

Rachel Levitin: Making do and searching for consistency

Earlier this week, Nationals Buzz guest blogger Marty Niland pointed out something I agree with. He wrote, “The Nats need to make hay against the teams they are supposed to beat until injured stars (Adam) LaRoche, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman can return to the lineup and bring them back to full strength.” One of the biggest problems facing the Nationals in 2014 is lack

Stuart Wallace: Advanced metrics show third base isn’t second nature for Rendon

In the face of a position change, Anthony Rendon has gotten off to a solid start with the bat in 2014. Despite a 2-for-12 showing against Oakland Athletics pitching extinguishing his dalliance with a .300 batting average for the time being, the third baseman is still in good shape, putting up a .349 weighted on-base average (league average is currently .310), good third on the

Marty Niland: In era of parity, Nats put disparity on display

Parity seems to be a buzzword in the major leagues these days. Much has been written about how the low-budget, small-market teams like the Oakland A’s are competitive with big-spending clubs. It was disparity, however, that best described last weekend’s series between Nationals and the A’s. It played out like a three-day infomercial for “Moneyball,” the 2003 book that chronicled Oakland general manager Billy Beane’s

Opposite dugout: Underachieving Diamondbacks heating up after slow start

Manager: Kirk Gibson, fifth year Record: 15-25 Last 10 games: 7-3 Who to watch: 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.321/.371/.531, 7 HR, 23 RBIs); C Miguel Montero (.287/.389/.457, 5 HR, 22 RBIs); RHP Josh Collmenter (1-2, 3.44 ERA); RHP Bronson Arroyo (3-2, 4.89 ERA) Season series vs. Nats (2013): 2-4, 17 runs scored, 24 runs allowed Pitching probables May 12: Josh Collmenter vs. Jordan Zimmermann, 9:30 p.m.,

Patrick Reddington: Finally, it’s time for Fister’s debut

Gio Gonzalez said this winter that he was a “big, big fan of Doug Fister.” The acquisition of the 6-foot-8 right-hander, according to Gonzalez, was like “knowing that you just got the brand-new car you wanted for Christmas.” “For me,” Gonzalez said, “when you’ve got someone with that kind of presence, he’s going to set the tone in the fourth spot, fifth spot, first spot,

Opposite dugout: Athletics host Nats in meeting of top pitching staffs

Manager: Bob Melvin, fourth year Record: 20-15 Last 10 games: 5-5 Who to watch: LF Yoenis Cespedes (.259/.344/.518, 6 HR, 9 doubles, 20 RBIs); 3B Josh Donaldson (.262/.341/.476, 7 HR, 10 doubles, 24 RBIs); RHP Sonny Gray (4-1, 1.91 ERA, 40 K); LHP Scott Kazmir (4-1, 2.64 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) Season series vs. Nats (2013): Did not play Pitching probables May 9: Tommy Milone vs.

David Huzzard: Inside the Nats’ left on base numbers

The Nationals have left 266 runners on base. This is the second-most runners left on by any team in the National League and the team ahead of the Nationals, the Diamondbacks, has had three extra games to leave runners on. Saying a team has left a lot of runners on base sounds alarming, but it only tells one part of the story. If a team

Rachel Levitin: Lengthy rain delay turned Monday’s Dodgers-Nats game into special experience

It’s rare that Monday night baseball turns into legitimate Tuesday morning baseball, but that’s what happened earlier this week between the Nationals and Dodgers. Once the rain that held up the early evening game had passed, what appeared to be a few hundred people (if that) huddled behind their respective team’s dugouts at Nationals Park to root, root, root for their own team well into

Ask Matt: A new blog for the new skipper

Although Matt Williams has more than a month of managing the Nationals under his belt, he’s still the new guy in town. Fans have gotten a cursory view of Williams, but there is still so much to learn about the skipper. Maybe you want to know how Williams grades himself over his first month of managing. Are you curious about his pregame rituals or what

Stuart Wallace: Digging deeper into Span’s slow start at the plate

On a team that has sputtered defensively to start the 2014 season, Nationals center fielder Denard Span is a playmaking oasis in a desert of bad hops, errant throws and generally poor defensive showings. Currently leading the team in the defensive statistics ultimate zone rating and defensive runs saved, Span has few peers in the outfield or across baseball in general when it comes to

Marty Niland: Hang on, help is on the way

What a frustrating weekend for the Nationals and their fans. After beating up on the hapless Houston Astros and another of their characteristic come-from-behind victories in the series opener in Philadelphia, the road trip went south in a hurry. The Nats’ bats fell silent at the hands of A.J. Burnett and Roberto Hernandez in a pair of losses to the middling Phillies. To make matters

Opposite dugout: Kershaw to rejoin strong Dodgers rotation Tuesday in D.C.

Manager: Don Mattingly, fourth year Record: 18-14 Last 10 games: 5-5 Who to watch: 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.292/.374/.592, 9 HR, 9 doubles, 25 RBIs); RF Yasiel Puig (.309/.397/.500, 11 XBH, 21 RBIs); LHP Clayton Kershaw (1-0, 1.35 ERA); RHP Zack Greinke (5-0, 2.04 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) Season series vs. Nats (2013): 5-1, 22 runs scored, 12 runs allowed Pitching probables May 5: Zack Greinke vs.

Patrick Reddington: Minor move pays big dividends for Nationals

Jayson Werth hit the big game-tying ninth-inning double last Wednesday night, on a 3-0 pitch from Angels closer Ernest Frieri. Adam LaRoche took Fernando Salas to left in the next at bat for a walk-off winner that capped off an improbable comeback in a game the Nationals appeared out of until catcher Jose Lobaton homered to start the bottom of the ninth inning. Both Werth

Opposite dugout: Up-and-down Phillies sending their best to hill vs. Nats

Manager: Ryne Sandberg, second year Record: 13-13 Last 10 games: 6-4 Who to watch: 2B Chase Utley (.355/.408/.570, 3 HR, 11 doubles, 14 RBIs); 1B Ryan Howard (.255/.333/.469, 5 HR, 14 RBIs); RHP A.J. Burnett (1-1, 2.15 ERA); LHP Cliff Lee (3-2, 3.29 ERA, 40 K) Season series vs. Nats (2013): 8-11, 56 runs scored, 94 runs allowed Pitching probables May 2: Cliff Lee vs.

David Huzzard: Breaking Nats down by trips through the rotation

While it is a pleasant surprise that the Nationals have scored 126 runs and are tied with the Marlins for second in the National League in that category, it is a little alarming that they’ve allowed 108 and are tied for fourth-most with the Cubs. The Nationals are a team built around run prevention and the season totals show a team that hasn’t done a

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