If you’ve struggled with the lack of real baseball this week, if you feel like there’s been a hole in your summertime routine without the Nationals and hundreds of my tweets, then you’re in luck - Major League Baseball returns today.
And so will my tweets. Get pumped.
Most players - those not involved in the All-Star events Monday and Tuesday - have gotten four days off, a chance to recharge their batteries, spend some time with family and friends, and let their bumps and bruises heal.
Now it’s back to business.
The Nats will open the second half with three games at home against the Dodgers. And based on the pitching matchups which were announced over the break, we should have some pretty good battles on our hands over the next three days.
Tonight, it’ll be Stephen Strasburg (5-7, 2.99 ERA) against Dodgers right-hander Ricky Nolasco (6-9, 3.76 ERA), who was acquired a couple of weeks ago in a trade with the Marlins.
Tomorrow, we’ll have Gio Gonzalez (7-3, 3.03 ERA), going against righty Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.49 ERA), and the series finale will pit Jordan Zimmermann (12-4, 2.58 ERA) against lefty Clayton Kershaw (8-6, 1.98 ERA) in a battle of two of the top starters in the majors.
I awoke this morning to a FOXSports.com report that the Rangers are close to completing a deal with the Cubs for Matt Garza, one of the top pitching names available on the market prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.
The Nationals have expressed some interest in Garza - who is 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA on the season and a ridiculous 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six starts - having some basic discussions about acquiring the righty over the past few weeks.
Garza is a bulldog, a fierce competitor and a guy who goes right at hitters. He’s the type of starter that any team in need of pitching would have on their radar, but I’ve thought from the beginning that he wasn’t much of a legitimate option for the Nats.
The Cubs will demand a wealth of young talent in return for Garza, and while the Nats might look to upgrade their rotation if Dan Haren struggles out of the All-Star break and/or Ross Detwiler isn’t able to return from the disabled list quickly enough, they are unlikely to get involved in a major bidding war that would rob them of more high-level prospects.
A number of the Nats’ top prospects at this point - Matt Purke, Sammy Solis, Lucas Giolito, etc. - are coming off injuries. The Nats already shipped right-hander Alex Meyer to the Twins this offseason in the Denard Span deal. If general manager Mike Rizzo is to make a deadline deal, he probably would prefer to stick to ones that would involve mid-level prospects, both because of the lack of tradeable high-ceiling minor leaguers and the reluctance to let those guys go.
In addition, Garza is only under contract through this year, making him a rental for the final 10 weeks of the season. Rizzo generally balks at such deals, ones that bring in players for a finite amount of time and rob the system of promising young talent.
Nats fans might be upset to see one of the top arms on the market head elsewhere, assuming the trade to the Rangers is completed, but I don’t think the Nationals were ever all that serious about acquiring Garza in the first place.