Revolving outfielders have more to prove over final weeks


Even with two extra spots in September, the Nationals are currently only carrying four true outfielders on their active roster. That’s usually the standard for any team: three starters and one backup on the bench.

But manager Davey Martinez, in fact, has utilized six players in the outfield since the roster shakeup at the trade deadline.

Victor Robles and Lane Thomas have been in Washington all season long. Joey Meneses (typically a first baseman) and Josh Palacios were brought up to fill the holes left by Juan Soto and Josh Bell, with Palacios making a couple of trips back-and-forth between the majors and Triple-A Rochester. Alex Call was selected off waivers from the Guardians on Aug. 7. And utilityman César Hernádez has appeared in left field four times to start September.

This is part of the process for the Nationals to see what they have in these players before the season ends in three weeks.

For the most part, they know what they have in Robles, who you may have noticed has not played since Sept. 7 in St. Louis. He was scratched from the starting lineup with a stiff neck the following day, but has been seen walking around the Nationals clubhouse this week with seemingly no issues.

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Nats seeing how their young players match up with baseball’s best prospects

Davey Martinez dugout red

About an hour north up I-295, a rival organization provides a blueprint for the Nationals and their rebuild.

A few years ago, the Orioles began the process of rebuilding their own organization. Now they are starting to turn the tide into contention, finding themselves unexpectedly four games out of an American League wild card berth.

That path back to contention is a similar one the Nationals want to follow now that they have fully embraced their own rebuild. And perhaps reach that turning point sooner.

This week’s two-game series against the Orioles was a good chance for the Nats to measure their young players against some of the best prospects in baseball.

Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Stowers and DL Hall were all at one time ranked in multiple publications’ top 100 prospects lists. They also headlined an Orioles farm system that has been one of if not the best in the sport since executive vice president and general manager MIke Elias took over in 2018.

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Nats give up Little League homer in loss to Orioles (updated)

Patrick Corbin throwing white

With the all-important and definitely real prize of the MASN Cup on the line, the Nationals could neither hold a close lead nor produce a late rally against their rivals from Baltimore.

After splitting two games at Camden Yards in June and dropping the Washington opener here last night, the Nationals fell to the Orioles 6-2 before an announced crowd of 32,497 to lose this year’s edition of the Battle of the Beltways.

Things went off the rails for the home team in the seventh while holding a 2-1 lead.

Mason Thompson, whose 0.60 ERA to begin the night was impressive even though it didn’t come in many high-leverage situations, entered in relief of starter Patrick Corbin for the start of the frame.

After back-to-back singles to Jesús Aguilar (with Terrin Vavra pinch-running) and pinch-hitter Cedric Mullins, Thompson faced Gunnar Henderson, one of baseball's top prospects.

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Cavalli cleared to throw, Cruz out with eye inflammation

cavalli debut

The Nationals received good news on two of their top pitching prospects this afternoon that involved both of them throwing a baseball in different ways.

After having been shut down for two weeks with right shoulder inflammation, Cade Cavalli was cleared to pick up a ball and resume throwing by team doctors and the medical staff.

His follow-up exam yesterday revealed that he was healthy enough to play a game of catch today at Nationals Park.

“Very good. He's actually playing catch as we speak,” manager Davey Martinez said of Cavalli’s follow-up exam and resumption of throwing. “It went really well. Inflammation’s gone. He said he feels great. Doctor evaluated him. Our medical staff put him through the gamut yesterday and today, so he's out there playing catch. So we'll see how he feels. This is great news for us. But with that being said, we still got quite a bit of ways (to go). But it's nice to see him out there throwing again.”

Cavalli was shut down after reporting unusual soreness in his right shoulder after his Aug. 26 major league debut. It was alarming news for the Nats after their top pitching prospect had finally earned the opportunity to debut in the bigs. At the time, the belief was that Cavalli would be done for the year out of extreme precaution and with only a month left in the season.

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Game 143 lineups: Nats vs. Orioles

corbin fires white

The Battle of the Beltways was split last year, with the Nationals and Orioles sweeping three-game series on their respective home fields. A Nationals win tonight would ensure a season split for the second year in a row.

The two rivals split two games in June at Camden Yards. The Orioles won the first game of this two-game set in D.C. last night. The Nationals hope Patrick Corbin and a resurgent offense can earn the split tonight. 

Corbin was charged with three runs and seven hits with six strikeouts over four innings in a rain-shortened loss to the Orioles on June 22. He also gave up home runs to Austin Hays (who ended up hitting for the cycle in a game that was called after just six innings) and Anthony Santander. In his career, Corbin is 1-4 with a 5.50 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) against Baltimore.

Tyler Wells makes his 22nd start of the season tonight, but just his second since coming off the injured list last week with a left oblique strain. The right-hander completed only two innings on 34 pitches against the Blue Jays in his return. In that June 22 matchup against Corbin, Wells tossed five scoreless innings with four walks and four strikeouts.

While Wells continues to stretch out, old friend Austin Voth is expected to back him up as a long reliever out of the bullpen. The Nats designated Voth for assignment on May 31 and the Orioles selected him off waivers on June 7. In 19 relief appearances with the Nats, Voth had a 10.13 ERA and 2.143 WHIP. In 18 games (14 starts) with the Orioles, Voth has a 2.82 ERA and 1.209 WHIP.

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Wood relishes representing his hometown on Nats farm


FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – James Wood grew up about an hour away from Nationals Park in Olney, Md. He attended Nationals games while starting his high school career as a two-sport athlete at St. John’s College High School in D.C. before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to focus on baseball.

When the Padres drafted him in the second round of last summer’s MLB Draft, he moved even further away from his hometown. But a little over a year later at this summer’s trade deadline, Wood found himself on his way back to his original neck of the woods as part of the five-prospect package the Padres put together to acquire Juan Soto and Josh Bell from the Nationals.

Wood entered the Nats system and was assigned to low Single-A Fredericksburg, which operates about an hour and half south of D.C. and places him back in a familiar region. And familiar traffic issues.

“It's nice. I'm like, what, I'm gonna say like an hour and 30 minutes (from home),” Wood said outside the FredNats clubhouse in left field at Virginia Credit Union Stadium. “I mean it really just depends on traffic. Like it could be an hour and 20 (minutes) to two hours. But just being able to really go home, if I need something from home, be able to stop by on off-day, just having my family here just about every game, it's real nice. So, I'm glad to be back home, glad to be close to family, close to home, all that stuff.”

Some players need an adjustment period when traded from one organization to another. Rarely do young prospects land near the city in which they grew up.

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Rutledge rediscovering himself while finding stride at Fredericksburg


FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – Not too long ago, Jackson Rutledge was the Nationals’ No. 1 overall prospect. A lot of promise surrounded the big first-round pick out of San Jacinto Junior College in Texas.

He made 10 starts in his first professional season, pitching to a 2-0 record, 3.13 ERA and 0.991 WHIP between rookie ball and Single-A during 2019.

Then, of course, he, like all minor leaguers, missed out during the pandemic-canceled 2020 season.

Coming into last year, Rutledge was joined by 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli as the Nationals’ top two prospects.

But while Cavalli quickly rose through the ranks, ultimately reaching Triple-A, Rutledge was hampered by injuries and left behind in A ball.

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Meneses delivers Nats' first walk-off win with three-run homer (updated)


In years past, today’s result between the 44-86 Nationals and 49-82 Athletics would have been actually important. The finale of a three-game set between teams who have two of the worst records in the major leagues and split the first two matchups would have had draft-order implications for the following year.

But alas, the implementation of the MLB Draft lottery gives the three teams with the worst records an equal chance at next year’s No. 1 overall pick, rendering this just another getaway-day game between two bottom-feeders.

Whatever the stakes, the end result was an exciting 7-5 walk-off victory for the Nationals in 10 innings.

Who else but Joey "Four Bags" Meneses to deliver the game-winning blow?

With two runners on base in a 5-4 game in the 10th, the Nats' new slugging right fielder and No. 2 hitter stepped to the plate to hit a three-run homer for an extra-inning win.

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Barrera and Thompson recalled as September rosters expand

thompson delivers cherry

It’s a new month, the last one of the season, which means major league rosters expand from 26 to 28 players.

The Nationals’ additions were no surprise: They officially recalled catcher Tres Barrera and right-hander Mason Thompson from Triple-A Rochester.

Barrera returns for his second stint with the Nationals this season. Over his previous time with the Nats, he hit .182 with a double, four RBIs and two walks in 14 games. 

In 55 games for Triple-A Rochester this season, Barrera hit .254 with seven doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 25 RBIs and 20 walks. He recorded a hit in all three of his starts as Rochester’s catcher since being optioned on Aug. 22.

The 27-year-old joins Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams as the three catchers now on the Nats roster. Manager Davey Martinez will look to use some of their flexibility to get each of them an appropriate amount of playing time, with all of them able to serve as the designated hitter and Adams also able to spell Luke Voit at first base.

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Game 131 lineups: Nats vs. Athletics


With a victory this afternoon, the Nationals would win the first series against the Athletics played in D.C. since 2005 and the first ever at Nats Park. And they would win this matchup between two teams with two of the worst records in baseball. A matchup that is now meaningless with next year’s MLB Draft lottery. 

After Aníbal Sánchez earned his first win of the season last night, Paolo Espino will look to do the same today. Entering his first career start against the Athletics, Espino is 0-6 with a 4.35 ERA in 34 appearances (14 starts) this year. He made two relief appearances against the A’s in 2017 as a member of the Rangers. 

Espino will be pitching on normal rest after making his last start on Saturday, thanks to Monday’s off-day. Cade Cavalli was supposed to make his second major league start this afternoon, but landed on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. Cory Abbott was recalled yesterday to take the top prospect’s spot on the roster and will be available out of the bullpen.

The Athletics will get to see one of their own top prospects make his major league debut in Ken Waldichuk. The 24-year-old lefty is Oakland’s No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and was the centerpiece of a four-player package the A’s received from the Yankees in exchange for Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino before the deadline. Waldichuk posted a 2.84 ERA, 1.158 WHIP and 137 strikeouts in 95 innings over his 21 starts between Double-A and Triple-A in the Yankees and A’s systems.

Major league rosters expand to 28 players today. Catcher Tres Barrera and right-hander Mason Thompson have been recalled from Triple-A Rochester.

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Cavalli shut down for two weeks with shoulder inflammation


Bad news struck the Nationals clubhouse this afternoon ahead of the opener against the Athletics. Making matters worse, it involves one of their top prospects.

Cade Cavalli, just four days removed from his major league debut, will be shut down for two weeks with right shoulder inflammation, manager Davey Martinez announced to begin his pregame press conference.

Cavalli was charged with seven runs on six hits, two walks and three hit batters while striking out seven and throwing 99 pitches (57 strikes) in his highly anticipated debut Friday against the Reds. When the 24-year-old returned to Nats Park the next day to begin his between-starts program, he reported tightness in his right shoulder. The Nationals stopped him from throwing and ordered an MRI the next day.

“I'm gonna start off by saying that we are going to shut Cade down for two weeks,” Martinez said. “He threw in the game. Came back the next day, was going through his routine, he's playing catch. After about 10 throws, he said he felt tight in the shoulder area. So we shut him down. He came in, we got him an MRI right away.”

The MRI came back mostly clean. There was no damage to the shoulder itself, but there was some inflammation.

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Bullpen falters, offense remains stagnant in Nats’ latest loss

Lane Thomas swinging bloom

In a lost season, the Nationals bullpen has been the one bright spot to consistently point to on this roster. It undoubtedly has been this team’s strength.

But all strengths have weak days from time to time.

Today was one of those times as a tied ballgame between the Nats and Reds quickly became a 6-2 loss for the home team after Jake McGee gave up two longballs in relief of Paolo Espino in the sixth inning.

Espino was having an efficient outing for much of the night. Often plagued this season by the inability to put away hitters with two strikes and often with two outs, the Nats starter had put up four zeros through his first five innings. The only blemish being a solo homer by Kyle Farmer on a 1-2 slider with two outs in the first.

Entering the sixth having thrown just 76 pitches, Espino was looking to complete six frames for the first time since Sept. 13, 2021 against the Marlins. But a single and a double (both coming in two-strike counts) put two runners in scoring position and Espino on the ropes with one out.

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Hernandez’s season ends on 60-day IL, Romero reinstated at Harrisburg


The Nationals announced two minor, but noteworthy, roster moves before their second game of this weekend series against the Reds.

Yadiel Hernandez was transferred to the 60-day injured list, ending his season while he still recovers from a left calf strain. He was placed on the 10-day IL on Aug. 20 (retroactive to Aug. 19), but his calf was not healing at a rate in which the team thought he could be ready to play in any of the remaining 35 games.

So the Nationals decided to shut down the 34-year-old outfielder so he can start getting ready for next year.

“He's had a calf, and from past experience with these calves, it's going to take a little bit longer than we anticipated,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame press conference. “But those calves, you gotta be really careful. So we didn't think that he was going to be ready in time. 

“What I'd like to see is that when Yadi leaves here for this winter that he's completely healthy. That he's running without all the baseball (things), but that he's running full tilt, can do some outfield stuff. This way he doesn't have to go home and worry about that. He just could have a normal winter and get ready for spring training.”

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Game 127 lineups: Nats vs. Reds

Paolo Espino bloom day jersey pitching

Now that the dust has settled from Cade Cavalli’s major league debut, the Nationals turn their attention to trying to win this series against the Reds. They need to bounce back tonight after last night’s loss.

Paolo Espino makes his fifth career appearance against the Reds tonight, but just his first away from Cincinnati. He’s 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA over his one start and three relief appearances against Cincy. 

Espino will not only be looking for his first win of the season, but he will also be looking to snap the Nats’ streak of 42 consecutive games without the starting pitcher earning a victory.

Luis Cessa brings a 3-2 record and 5.67 ERA to the mound for the Reds. He’s only made two starts in his 38 appearances this season and only combined to pitch three innings over those two starts, setting up a possible bullpen game. Cessa has a 5.79 ERA over four career relief appearances against the Nats.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan,
Weather: Partly cloudy, 83 degrees, wind 6 mph in from left-center field 

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Despite final result, Cavalli’s debut still significant start for Nats


It did not come with the fanfare and electricity of Stephen Strasburg’s major league debut on the same mound in 2010.

There were not 40,315 fans on their feet for the duration of the game. There was no national audience nor local news channel cameras packing the press box.

And the end result was certainly not the same.

No, Cade Cavalli’s major league debut was not the second coming of Strasmas. But it was the first wave of the Nationals’ top prospects reaching the major leagues, and a significant sign of what they’re trying to accomplish with this rebuild.

Cavalli didn’t match Strasburg’s incredible 14-strikeout performance on June 8, 2010. But no one expected him to, and the Nationals didn’t need him to repeat that.

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Cavalli selected, García reinstated and Franco released

franco swing @CIN blue

Happy Cade Cavalli Day to all who celebrate!

The Nationals made it official by selecting the contract of their top pitching prospect for his major league debut, one of several roster moves made before tonight’s series opener against the Reds.

When the 2020 first-round pick takes the mound at Nats Park, he will become the 24th pitcher drafted, signed and developed by the Nationals (2005-present) to start a game for Washington.

Cavalli is the No. 52 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America, and No. 58 according to MLB Pipeline. He leads qualified Nationals minor leaguers with a .215 opponents’ batting average and ranks second in ERA (3.71), strikeouts (104) and WHIP (1.18). He went 6-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 20 starts for Triple-A Rochester this season.

More recently, the 24-year-old has been nothing short of dominant. Over his last seven starts, Cavalli went 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA, 43 strikeouts, 12 walks and a .180 opponents’ batting average. He didn’t allow an earned run in 15 ⅔ consecutive innings, recording 16 strikeouts and three walks in three starts from July 6 to July 27. In his last two starts with the Red Wings, Cavalli struck out 19 batters, allowing just five walks to go along with a 1.50 ERA and a .128 opponents’ batting average (5-for-39).

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Nationals release 2023 schedule


As the Nationals look forward to watching Cade Cavalli, CJ Abrams and possibly MacKenzie Gore finish out the last month of the 2022 season, they announced the complete 2023 schedule earlier today.

The 2023 Major League Baseball season will be the first to feature a balanced schedule for all 30 teams since interleague play was introduced in 1997. Each of the 30 clubs will play against one another, while also hosting every other club in their home market at least once every other season.

Opening day will start the 19th season of Nationals baseball in our nation’s capital with the Braves visiting on Thursday, March 30. It will be the fifth time the Nats have faced the Braves on opening day. It will also start a six-game homestand against the Braves and Rays to start the regular season.

The Nats’ first road trip of 2023 takes them to Colorado and Anaheim for seven games to face the Rockies and Angels. It will be the second year in a row the Nats will travel to face old friend Anthony Rendon and the Halos, who do not make a trip to D.C. next year.

The annual Battle of the Beltways series against the Orioles are earlier and later than usual next year. The two rivals will play two games April 18-19 at Nationals Park and two games Sept. 26-27 at Camden Yards during the Nats’ final road trip of the season.

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How will Nats know Cavalli is ready for big league debut?

cavalli futures

It’s a question that is being asked a lot nowadays. It might be the most popular question surrounding the Nationals now that the trade deadline has passed, CJ Abrams has made his debut, MacKenzie Gore’s rehab plan has come more into focus and we’re in the home stretch of the season.

When will top pitching prospect Cade Cavalli make his major league debut?

The Nationals have been very open about taking a cautious approach with their former first-round pick, not wanting to rush a young pitcher who was a two-way player in college and is only in his second full professional season.

“You also have to remember, he did have a great college career, but he didn’t pitch much,” general manager Mike Rizzo said of Cavalli on Wednesday during his weekly appearance with “The Sports Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan. “He was a two-way player. He’s really new to pitching. And he’s really learned fast and on the run. When you talk about a guy who had a limited amount of innings in high school and college that he has, he made a meteoric rise through the minor league rankings. And I think he’s just scratching the surface. He’s going to be a good big league pitcher for us. I’m excited to see him when he gets here. And when the reports are that he’s ready to come to the big leagues, we certainly will not hesitate to bring him here.”

So maybe the question should be: When the reports say Cavalli’s ready, what will that look like?

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Nats can’t put together another late rally, drop finale to Cubs

cory abbott pitches red

The Nationals were able to chip away at a 4-1 Cubs lead on Tuesday night. Home runs by Luke Voit and Lane Thomas in the eight inning sent the game to extras. CJ Abrams’ first hit and RBI as a National extended the game to the 11th.

Even in an eventual loss, the boys battled multiple times.

Try as they might, there was no late-inning rally Wednesday, as the Nationals dropped the series finale 3-2 to the Cubs in front of 28,302 fans on a beautiful 78-degree day in the District.

A late rally was made necessary by some back and forth between the two teams in the middle innings. With the Cubs up 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Nats tied the game with some small ball action.

Joey Meneses led off the frame with a double into the left-field corner, extending his hitting streak to 11 games and knocking Cubs starter Drew Smyly from the game. 

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Fedde making rehab start at Rochester, Gore could throw “light bullpen” on road

erick fedde pitches white

Davey Martinez had some encouraging updates on a couple of recovering pitchers before Wednesday’s getaway game against the Cubs.

Erick Fedde is lined up to make his first rehab start with Triple-A Rochester this afternoon as the Red Wings face the Worcester Red Sox.

Fedde has been on the 15-day injured list since July 30 (retroactive to July 27) with right shoulder inflammation, his last start coming on July 24 in Arizona. He threw two bullpen sessions leading up to a sim game on Friday in which he threw 47 pitches at Nationals Park.

“We would love him to go five or six innings and about 80 pitches,” Martinez said of Fedde’s rehab start during his pregame session with reporters.

The right-hander is 4-7 with a 4.95 ERA in 19 starts for the Nationals this season. With a rotation that is struggling to produce quality starts outside of Josiah Gray’s day to take the ball, the Nationals are hoping Fedde only needs one rehab outing before rejoining the major league squad. But that depends on how he does today in Worcester.

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