Rutledge starting to shove at Fredericksburg


A lot of attention on the Nationals’ farm system is rightfully given to Brady House, Cade Cavalli and Cole Henry. They are the organization’s top three prospects, per

Unfortunately, House (No. 1) is on the seven-day injured list at low Single-A Fredericksburg with back soreness. The 19-year-old shortstop hasn’t played in a game since June 11. Henry (No. 3) is also on the minor league injured list with shoulder soreness. Since his promotion from Double-A Harrisburg, the 22-year-old right-hander has allowed four runs with six strikeouts in four innings over his first two starts with Triple-A Rochester.

Meanwhile, Cavalli (No. 2) will make his first start at Rochester tonight after a scheduled midseason break. The 23-year-old right-hander has pitched really well as of late, posting a 2.17 ERA with 29 strikeouts and just 11 walks over his last five starts.

But some may have forgotten about Jackson Rutledge, a 2019 first-round pick out of San Jacinto Junior College and former No. 1 prospect in the Nats system.

Rutledge’s young career has been marred by injuries, limiting him to just 10 starts in his first professional season in 2019 and then only 13 in 2021. (He spent the 2020 season at the Nats’ alternate training site in Fredericksburg.)

Continue reading

Martinez named to NL All-Star coaching staff

davey martinez staring

Baseball is full of unique traditions from its storied past. It’s not so much the “unwritten rules” between the lines. A lot of it has to deal with off-the-field traditions.

One of the more well-known and beloved traditions is having the managers from the previous year’s World Series manage the All-Star teams in July. That has been the case dating all the way back to 1934.

Unfortunately, Davey Martinez wasn’t able to have that honor during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after the Nationals won the 2019 World Series. There was no All-Star Game that year, so therefore, there was no National League team to manage.

But this year will be a small consolation for Martinez, who on Monday was named to Braves manager Brian Snitker’s coaching staff for this year’s edition of the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium (the rescheduled location after the cancellation of 2020’s game).

“I talked to Brian Snitker. We go way back. He's a good man,” Martinez said of being named to the NL coaching staff. “I'm honored to be a part of the staff. It seems like I've known a lot of those guys for many, many years. I played with some of them. I played with (first base coach Eric Young Jr.'s) dad in Chicago. So I'm excited about it. It'd be a lot of fun, get to see some familiar faces and hang out with some coaches that I know.”

Continue reading

Franco delivers heroics to put away Pirates (updated)


Entering the eighth inning of tonight’s game, the Nationals offense had yet to take advantage of the opportunity provided by starter Erick Fedde and the bullpen. In a low-scoring game, the only offense to that point had come in the sixth inning when Luis García came around to score after a leadoff double to the right-center gap. Back-to-back groundouts to the right side of the infield allowed García to advance and eventually cross home plate with Yadiel Hernandez getting credit for the RBI.

But García delivered another leadoff double in the eighth, setting up Maikel Franco’s late-inning heroics in the Nationals’ 3-2 win over the Pirates in front of 18,213 fans at Nationals Park.

With García standing on second base, two outs and the Nats down 2-1 to the Bucs, Franco sent a first-pitch slider from right-hander Chris Stratton 105.5 mph off his bat and 418 feet to left-center field. The Nats third baseman gave an emphatic high-five to first base coach Eric Young Jr. as he rounded the bases as what would prove to be the game-winning run.

“I know we were just down for one run," Franco said after the game. "Obviously, I just think about see the ball and drive the ball, just get a hit to try to tie the ballgame. And I got better results. He threw me a slider first pitch and I was able to put good contact on it. And I got the success.”

That success sent Nats Park into a frenzy as the home team celebrated energetically in front of the dugout.

Continue reading

Clay recalled; Sánchez and Rogers to make rehab starts at Rochester


The Nationals returned from a five-game road trip and made a quick roster move before beginning a seven-game homestand tonight against the Pirates.

They recalled left-hander Sam Clay from Triple-A Rochester and optioned fellow southpaw Francisco Perez to Rochester, bringing in a fresh lefty arm for the bullpen. Perez’s demotion comes after he allowed three runs without recording an out in the ninth inning of yesterday’s finale against the Rangers, forcing manager Davey Martinez to call upon Tanner Rainey to close out the 6-4 win.

“Look, this game, as you know, we have to make tough decisions,” Martinez said of the move during his pregame session with the media. “But (Perez) had an outing yesterday, faced a couple of batters and got hit hard. So we just want him to go down and continue to get some work in. We brought Sam up, give him an opportunity. As you know, we're short on lefties in the bullpen. And we're always searching, we're always looking. So Sam has been pitching well down there. So we're gonna give him an opportunity to pitch up here. But that's not to say that we won't see Francisco again. He's gonna go down there and just continue to work.”

Clay went 1-2 with a 3.10 ERA, 20 strikeouts and seven walks in 21 relief appearances for Rochester. He tossed scoreless outings of relief in 17 of the 21 appearances with the Red Wings. The 29-year-old has given up five runs in four innings over five appearances with the Nats this season.

Perez, 24, posted a 7.27 ERA across 10 relief appearances for the Nats.

Continue reading

Game 76 lineups: Nats vs. Pirates

Lane Thomas Nelson Cruz five white

The Nationals have returned home from a rare five-game American League road trip. They went 3-2 this week, splitting the two-game Battle of the Beltways series in Baltimore and winning a three-game set against the Rangers. After a brutal 3-8 homestand a week ago, the Nats have now won four of their last six games as they welcome the Pirates for three games in D.C. 

Erick Fedde looks to build off one of his best starts of the season after shutting out the Orioles over six innings on Tuesday night. He is 5-5 with a 4.46 ERA over his 14 starts this season (with the Nats going 8-6 in those games) and 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA over his last four starts (with the Nats going 3-1 in those games).

Fedde earned the win in Pittsburgh on April 15 by allowing four hits, two runs and two walks while striking out six over five innings. 

Miguel Yajure is lined up to start tonight for the Pirates. The right-handed rookie is 1-0 with an 11.32 ERA over his six appearances this season, all coming out of the bullpen. Yajure gave up three runs in three innings of relief against the Nats on the same day Fedde started in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates are coming off their own interleague series, in which they were swept by the Rays in three games in St. Petersburg, Fla. 

Continue reading

Escobar understands new role in return from IL

alcides escobar hi five teammates white

BALTIMORE – The conversation was had when Alcides Escobar initially landed on the injured list with a right hamstring strain on June 1. Even though the injury wasn’t considered too serious and the shortstop wasn’t expected to miss an extended period of time, manager Davey Martinez told him the plan for whenever he was ready to return.

The Nationals would replace Escobar with 22-year-old Luis García, who would take over everyday shortstop duties even when the veteran was healthy enough to come off the IL. Escobar would then move into a utility role coming off the bench, playing all around the infield and maybe sometimes in the outfield.

“I know Luis is a young player. And obviously he needs that experience and I'm here to help him out, as well as any other player on the field, with my experience,” said Escobar, via interpreter Octavio Martinez, in front of his locker Tuesday afternoon after the Nats reinstated him from the 10-day injured list. “Any way I can help him, that's what I'm here to do and help the team out in any way possible. Davey spoke with me about coming off the bench and basically coming out and playing all positions around the infield, and I'm ready to do that. He's the one that makes that decision. I'm here to help the team win any way possible and I understand my role and I'm ready to do whatever is needed.”

The direction of the franchise has, of course, shifted over the last 11 months. In years past, Escobar’s veteran presence would be a piece of a team trying to make the playoffs. Now the focus is on the development of younger players, like García, so Escobar has been relegated to the bench.

“He's got to understand where we're at right now as far as an organization and he's got to be able to play all positions,” Davey Martinez said. “And I told him, "Just be ready to play.' But he's got the ability to play third base, shortstop, second base, and he played outfield as well. So I kind of like that, having him and (Ehire) Adrianza that I could do a multitude of things. It's kind of nice.”

Continue reading

García moves up in order for opener in Baltimore

Garcia hitting blue

BALTIMORE – As the Nationals start this five-game road trip up I-295 at Camden Yards, they’re hoping their offensive explosion from Sunday carries over to tonight’s game against the Orioles.

After averaging just three runs over their previous eight games, the offense jumped all over Phillies pitchers en route to a 9-3 win two days ago to end an 11-games-in-10-days homestand. 

One way manager Davey Martinez is trying to create more runs is moving one of his hottest hitters up in the lineup. For the first time this season, Luis García will bat fifth, his highest spot in the lineup this year.

“He's swinging the bat well, and we're monitoring his swings and his approach,” Martinez said of García during his pregame media session. “Looking for someone, one, to drive in some runs. Two to actually get on base with some of those other guys as well. And he's done that so far.”

That he has. Since joining the Nats on June 1, the left-handed-hitting shortstop has slashed .360/.372/.507 with five doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs, one walk, one hit by pitch and nine runs scored. He has recorded a hit in 15 of his 19 games with the Nationals this season and has reached safely in 16 of the 19. His 27 hits in June rank second in the National League and his .360 average ranks sixth.

Continue reading

Not enough clutch hits for Nats in Ryan Zimmerman Day loss (updated)

Gray pitching gray

It was a glorious day to celebrate Ryan Zimmerman on South Capitol Street. It was unseasonably warm for mid-June at 76 degrees with low humidity, albeit 17 mph winds moving from left field to right.

Not a cloud in the sky as 42,730 fans packed Nationals Park to watch Zimmerman’s No. 11 become the first number ever retired by the club. But after all of the celebrations, tribute videos, speeches and the actual ceremony to honor the franchise’s past, the current Nationals team took the field in an attempt to give Zimmerman a victory on his special day.

“Today was good. The ceremony was unbelievable," said Davey Martinez, who was involved during the pregame ceremony himself. "I mean, it's amazing."

Unfortunately, the 2022 Nationals look more like the teams from Zimmerman’s early years, not like the winning teams he led for most of the past decade. This team was also trying to snap multiple losing streaks: They have lost seven straight games since Sunday. They have lost 12 straight to National League East rivals. And they have lost 11 in a row to these Phillies.

All of those streaks continued with today’s 2-1 extra-inning loss on Ryan Zimmerman Day in front of a sellout crowd, the largest attendance of the season. The deciding run came on Rhys Hoskins’ pinch-hit RBI single to score the automatic runner in the 10th off Reed Garrett.

Continue reading

Controversial game ends with Nats’ seventh straight loss (updated)


This weekend is about Ryan Zimmerman, no doubt. As the Nationals get ready to retire his No. 11 tomorrow, all eyes are on Mr. National, the first player in the team's history to be so honored.

Former teammates Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa lined the top of the visitor’s dugout for a pregame Q&A session hosted by MASN’s own Bob Carpenter in front of a gathering of season ticket holders before Zimmerman himself showed up for the later portion.

The real celebration is tomorrow, but it was a nice way to kick off the special weekend.

Then there was a baseball game to be played, with the Nationals looking to avoid the doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Phillies and snap a six-game losing streak in the process. They weren’t able to do so, losing 8-7 in 10 innings in front of 24,785 people in attendance for an unbelievably whacky nightcap.

Let’s fast-forward to the extra frame. Kyle Schwarber was the automatic runner at second base for the Phillies. Steve Cishek walked Rhys Hoskins to put a second runner on base. A 3-1 groundout by Nick Castellanos moved the runners into scoring position for J.T. Realmuto.

Continue reading

Game 68 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

espino pitching white

If you thought this week was long already, Friday’s games aren’t even over yet. Let’s play two!

After this afternoon’s 5-3 loss to the Phillies, in which Joan Adon covered five innings on 97 pitches and Evan Lee covered one inning on 31 pitches, the Nationals will need a total team effort to snap this six-game losing streak. The pitching hasn’t been great and the offense came into today averaging 2.6 runs per game this week.

Paolo Espino gets the assignment for the nightcap, trying to provide the home team with as much length as possible as well as the Nats' first quality start since June 5. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 1.022 WHIP in 21 appearances this season. He’s making his second straight start after giving up just one run and four hits with two strikes over 3 ⅔ innings against the Brewers. He threw 53 pitches on Sunday, so he’ll be pushed beyond that tonight.

The Phillies are calling up 25-year-old Bailey Falter from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start tonight. In six major league appearances this season, the left-hander is 0-2 with a 4.20 ERA and 1.467 WHIP. In his two starts, he is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.565 WHIP. Falter has been fantastic at Triple-A, however, pitching to a 1.54 ERA and 0.686 WHIP in five starts with Lehigh Valley.

Tonight officially kicks off Ryan Zimmerman Weekend here at Nationals Park. Gates open for all fans around 6 p.m. There are on-field and social media Q&A sessions with former players at 6 p.m. and an on-field Q&A session with Zimmerman at 6:20 p.m. Plus, the first 25,000 fans age 21+ will receive a Ryan Zimmerman Employee No. 11 T-shirt.

Continue reading

Nats need length ahead of long weekend

Patrick Corbin throwing blue home

As soon as it was placed on the schedule, this was always a possibility. You just have to hope that everything goes well leading up to it.

Once Major League Baseball released the updated 2022 schedule after the first week of the regular season was canceled due to the lockout, the Nationals must have circled this weekend on their calendar.

One of the two games against the Phillies that was originally scheduled for early April was rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader on Friday, the back end of an 11-game homestand over 10 days. Not to mention it’s Ryan Zimmerman Weekend at Nationals Park.

So yeah, a long weekend.

On the field, the Nationals need help for and from their pitching staff to get through these next five games.

Continue reading

Nats strike out against Strider and suffer sweep

keibert ruiz walking away red

This week hasn’t been pleasant to the Nationals. After starting this homestand with two big wins over the Brewers, it’s been all downhill since.

Looking to avoid their third sweep in as many weeks, the Nationals dropped another dud in the form of an 8-2 loss to the Braves in front of 21,153 fans at Nationals Park.

The Nats had nothing going against Braves starter Spencer Strider. The rookie brought his good stuff to his fourth straight start, putting away hitters with his triple-digit fastball and sharp slider.

Strider’s fastball averaged 98.8 mph and topped out at 100.9 mph, with the Nats swinging late on it all night. Then the slider was a great putaway pitch as it was thrown for strikes 43 percent of the time.

“He was good. He hit 100-101 (mph)," manager Davey Martinez said after the game. "But more so his breaking ball was good and he threw it for strikes. When a guy's like that, he's tough locating his fastball. He was tough."

Continue reading

Soto not in lineup for second straight game

juan soto upset white

The Nationals have already had a rough start to the week with Stephen Strasburg’s injury news, a worn out bullpen and three straight losses at home, including the first two games of this three-game set against the Braves. The last thing they need is for their best player to miss time due to a freak injury in the dugout.

But that’s exactly what they have as Juan Soto is not in the starting lineup for the second straight game after slipping in the dugout and banging his right knee on the corner of a bench in the eighth inning of Monday night’s game.

Soto was seen in the Nationals clubhouse before batting practice walking around with a slight limp in his step. He was going to test it out in the cage before making a decision on whether or not he would play, even though he told manager Davey Martinez he’s feeling better.

“He says he feels better, but we'll see,” Martinez said during his pregame session with the media before a starting lineup was announced.

What do the Nationals want to see Soto do before putting him back in the field?

Continue reading

Game 65 lineups: Nats vs. Braves

juan soto standing white

Well, this week has not started off well for the Nationals. After starting this 11-games-in-10-days homestand with two impressive wins against the Brewers over the weekend, the Nats have dropped three straight by a combined score of 23-10, including the first two games of this series against the division rival Braves. Not to mention all of the injury and roster news from the past 48 hours …

As they look to avoid a three-game sweep, the Nats will turn to Erick Fedde to be the stopper, something he actually has done a handful of times this season. The Nationals have won seven of the 12 games Fedde has started this season, with the right-hander going 4-4 with a 4.87 ERA. Of those seven wins, five of them were the only victories the Nationals secured in those respective series (against the Mets, Pirates, Rockies, Astros and Dodgers). And his most recent start against the Brewers stopped a three-game losing streak after the Nationals were swept out of Miami last week.

He’ll try to do it again tonight.

The Braves will send one of the National League’s best rookies in Spencer Strider to the mound for just his fourth start in his 15th appearance this season. The 23-year-old right-hander is 2-2 with a 1.122 WHIP and 2.35 ERA, which is third-best among qualified major league rookies. Strider’s three starts have come in his last three outings, over which he allowed four earned runs in 14 innings while striking out 20 and issuing just eight walks. He gave up one run on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings of relief against the Nats on April 11 in Atlanta.

Juan Soto is not in the lineup for the second straight game. The star right fielder slipped in the dugout and banged his right knee on the corner of a bench in the eighth inning of Monday night’s game. Manager Davey Martinez told reporters yesterday Soto’s X-ray came back clean, but today said the knee is still sore. Martinez also said during his pregame media session that Soto could be available off the bench.

Continue reading

Doolittle excited to increase rehab activities


You’ll have to excuse Sean Doolittle if he seems a little amped over something as trivial as playing catch as a major league pitcher. For a guy who had to go on the 10-day injured list after a strong start to the season and then went months without picking up a baseball, the left-hander had a lot of energy and a lot to say about his ongoing rehab process.

“We're in my second week of playing catch. ... Up to 75 feet right now. And just building back up,” Doolittle said in front of his locker in the Nationals clubhouse Friday afternoon. “I can't remember the last time I took two months off from throwing. But the elbow and the forearm have been feeling really good. All of the strength work has gone really well and now is the fun part. Getting to throw and play catch again, knock that rust off. We don't have a timetable or anything. But it's been going really well.”

Doolittle landed on the 10-day IL with a left elbow sprain on April 20, the day after he recorded two outs in relief of Josiah Gray during the Nationals’ 6-1 win over the Diamondbacks in the matinee of a D.C. doubleheader. A little over two weeks later, he was moved to the 60-day IL after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection that would keep him out for a longer period of time.

He had to stop throwing for what turned out to be about two months. He wasn’t allowed to do what he’s literally paid to do.

After starting the season with 5 1/3 scoreless innings, a 0.188 WHIP and six strikeouts to no walks over six appearances, was that particularly frustrating for him?

Continue reading

Nats start homestand by routing Brewers (updated)

bell homers home blue

It’s always nice to be home. After a 10-game road trip in which they went 3-7, the Nationals were happy to return to D.C. to start this long homestand tonight against the Brewers.

You could feel it in the clubhouse before the game. Despite coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins and getting into town late last night, players seemed to be in high spirits this afternoon. Even manager Davey Martinez was particularly chipper in his pregame press conference.

Did the late arrival time at Nationals Park allow them to catch up on sleep? Or were they over-caffeinated after not getting enough sleep? We don’t know for sure, but whatever it was it led to an 11-5 win over the Brewers in front of 26,111 in attendance on South Capitol Street.

“I am tired. … I got three hours of sleep," Martinez said immediately after tonight's game. "By the end of the game today, I looked at (bench coach Tim Bogar) and said, 'I'm beat.' ”

It was a picture-perfect Friday night in our nation’s capital. With a gametime temperature of 79 degrees and a per usual perfect national anthem from local favorite D.C. Washington, the Nationals settled right into a victory in which they received contributions from all aspects of the roster.

Continue reading

Cruz returns to lineup, Sánchez throws light bullpen and more

cruz sliding white

After a long 10-game road trip across three cities, the Nationals are finally home in D.C., ready to start an 11-game homestand over the next 10 days.

“Yeah, it's awesome,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame session in the press conference room at Nationals Park. “I mean, it was a long road trip. It really was. But glad to be home.”

Although the location has changed, the Nationals lineup for their series opener against the Brewers remains mostly the same, with Nelson Cruz starting again as the designated hitter after being a late scratch from last night’s finale in Miami with tightness in his back.

“Cruz is back in there,” Martinez said. “His back was stiff yesterday. So he called this morning, I talked to him this morning. He said he feels a lot better. ... Says he feels good. So he's back in there.”

The 41-year-old has dealt with a handful of nagging issues that have caused him to be scratched from lineups this season. He was also removed from the lineup before an April 12 game in Atlanta with groin tightness, and he was scratched from a May 16 game in Miami with an illness.

Continue reading

Game 60 lineups: Nats vs. Brewers

fedde throw back white

Home, sweet home! After going 3-7 over a three-city road trip, the Nationals have finally returned home to South Capitol Street. 

Tonight kicks off an 11-game homestand over the next 10 days (thanks to a doubleheader against the Phillies a week from today), starting with three games against the Brewers. The Nats will be looking for a little payback after dropping two out of three in Milwaukee last month.

Erick Fedde takes the mound for his sixth home start to open this series. He’s 3-4 with 4.88 ERA on the season and gave up two runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings against the Brewers in May.

Aaron Ashby gets the start for the Brew Crew tonight. In 12 games (six starts) this season, the young left-hander is 1-4 with a 3.13 ERA. He closed out the Brewers’ 7-0 win with a scoreless ninth inning on the same day Fedde started for the Nationals at American Family Field. As a starter, Ashby is 1-2 with a 3.45 ERA.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan,
Weather: Cloudy, 78 degrees, wind 7 mph in from left field 

Continue reading

Unsung heroes helped Nats over the weekend

franco swing @CIN blue

CINCINNATI – Wherever the Nationals go, the attention always focuses on their big-name players. Your Juan Sotos, Josh Bells, Nelson Cruzes, Josiah Grays, Patrick Corbins, etc.

While all of those stars contributed to the Nats’ three wins over the Reds this weekend, some unsung heroes played a significant role as well.

Not all of them got their fair share of praise over the last three days, partially my own fault for not incorporating them more. So let’s take some time to give them their time in the spotlight.

Lane Thomas is an obvious one, though he did get his fair share after hitting three home runs on Friday night. Those jump off the page, obviously, but he did a lot more this weekend.

Thomas went 7-for-14 with three home runs, a double, four RBIs, a walk and five runs scored in the three games he played in Cincinnati, once again showing his uncanny ability to produce in National League Central ballparks. All along the way, he played perfect defense in the outfield, including a nice sliding catch Saturday afternoon.

Continue reading

Corbin, Nats hold off Reds for road series win (updated)


CINCINNATI – It’s been over a month since the Nationals completed a road series win. They took two out of three in San Francisco on April 28-May 1. They have lost five straight since.

That streak ended today as the Nationals beat the Reds 5-4 in front of 16,380 at Great American Ball Park to win their third straight game and therefore this four-game series.

The first inning had a lot of action this Sunday afternoon. Facing right-hander Luis Castillo, who doesn’t have great career numbers against the Nats, the guys in navy blue were able to jump out to an early lead, something they haven’t done in about a week.

César Hernández walked and Lane Thomas singled to start the game, and Josh Bell drove in both with an RBI double to right field, putting the Nats on the board first for the first time since Monday in New York.

But Patrick Corbin ran into trouble of his own in the bottom of the inning. The Reds’ game plan against the southpaw was clear: Attack the fastball and run on the basepaths.

Continue reading