Crews tops latest Nats prospect ranking

Dylan Crews Fredericksburg

MLB Pipeline released its midseason rankings of the top 100 prospects in baseball and the top 30 for each major league team, adding the 2023 draft class and trade deadline moves, and there’s no surprise who tops the Nationals’ list.

Dylan Crews, the No. 2 overall pick out of LSU, is the Nationals’ new top prospect, coming in at No. 1 on the team’s top 30 and No. 4 overall in the sport.

The outfielder was MLB Pipeline’s top-rated position player in this year’s draft, so it’s no wonder they hold him in high regard. But it was going to be a close call between him and fellow outfielder James Wood, who has been the Nats’ top prospect since the end of last season.

Wood is now the Nats No. 2 prospect (such a big drop) and the No. 7 overall prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline. Both he and Crews have a major league ETA of 2024.

Third baseman Brady House is now the Nats’ No. 3 prospect while also becoming one of the highest-ranking newcomers in the top 100, landing at No. 43 after his promotion to Double-A Harrisburg earlier this summer. He rounds out the Nationals prospects in the top 100.

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After a family loss, Rutherford records elusive first hit

Blake Rutherford first hit cherry blossoms

So far, it’s been a weekend of firsts for members of this Nationals squad.

Jake Alu recorded his first major league home run on Friday. And on Saturday, after seven minor league seasons and a week in the majors, Blake Rutherford recorded his elusive first hit.

“I don't even know if it's really sunk in. It was a surreal moment,” Rutherford said of his first hit after the Nationals’ 3-2 walk-off win over the Athletics. “I can't really thank all these players, all the coaches for having my back and for telling me to keep going, to keep pushing. Every single one of them is picking me up every single day and I couldn't be more thankful for that. To have my brother fly in and my girlfriend here to be able to see it, not as many people as the debut, but to still have people here who are part of the journey is special and I'm extremely grateful for them and for all my family back home watching. It's just a special moment for all of us, not just me.”

The 26-year-old wasted no time in last night’s game. In his first at-bat in a 1-2 count, the left-handed hitter slapped a 100-mph outside sinker from righty Luis Medina the other way for a single to load the bases.

He had a huge smile on his face as he stood on the bag with his teammates giving him a standing ovation from the dugout and first base coach Eric Young Jr. giving him a big hug.

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Ruiz walks off A's for another home series win (updated)

Keibert Ruiz walkoff

The Nationals have been playing well at home over the last month, a stark difference from the first half of the season. It took until the ninth inning, but that trend continued tonight against the Athletics.

With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Keibert Ruiz stepped to the plate and delivered a first-pitch walk-off home run to right field for a 3-2 win in front of 28,635 screaming fans.

“I was looking for a good pitch to hit," Ruiz said after the victory celebrations. "I got it and I put a good swing on it. Just grateful to god for this opportunity. I've been dreaming for this moment for a long time.”

He got a perfect pitch to hit from Oakland reliever Lucas Erceg. The right-hander left a 97-mph fastball right down the middle of the plate for Ruiz to crush 391 feet into the Nationals bullpen and then trot the bases to his awaiting teammates for a cold Gatorade bath at home plate.

“I can't describe that moment," Ruiz said. "Like I said, I've been dreaming for that moment for a long time and really grateful to god.”

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Updates on Adon, Ruiz, Thomas, Harvey and Rainey

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There was a lot of injury news from Friday, both from before the 8-2 victory over the Athletics and from afterward. Let’s take a look at some of the updates on those included parties.

First of all, the concern coming out of the win was Joan Adon’s early departure after only three innings. The young right-hander was dealing with command issues, which led to two runs in the first inning, and then walked off the field with manager Davey Martinez and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard after throwing some warm-up pitches before the fourth.

The good news after the game was that the ailment was only leg cramps. The bad news was that this was the second straight game he had experienced them and third time since July.

“He said he feels better,” Martinez said ahead of Saturday’s game during his meeting with the media. “We're gonna run some tests on him though and see why this is happening to him. Whether he's not getting enough fluids or (what). I talked to him today. He said he drinks a lot before the game. So we're going to figure it out before his next start. And hopefully, it's something that we can control. But today, he said he felt fine. I told him to just take it easy today and we'll get you going again tomorrow. Because he's definitely got to get on this routine.”

Adon expressed concern last night that the cramps came up so early in the game, whereas they didn’t happen until the sixth inning last week against the Reds. But Martinez said it could happen at any time with the amount Adon sweats during a start.

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Game 118 lineups: Nats vs. Athletics (Thomas scratched)

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The Nationals have won seven of their last 11 games after last night’s 8-2 win over the Athletics while continuing to play well at home. They have won 10 of their last 12 games on South Capitol Street and have a chance today to clinch their fifth straight home series.

Jake Irvin will look to provide some length after Joan Adon only lasted three innings Friday night due to leg cramps. The right-handed rookie is 3-5 with a 4.93 ERA and 1.440 WHIP over his first 17 major league starts. He has pitched into the sixth in three of his last four outings but only made it to the fifth last weekend in Cincinnati.

The A’s will send out their own right-handed rookie Luis Medina for tonight’s game. The 24-year-old is 3-8 with a 5.47 ERA and 1.532 WHIP over 16 big league appearances, 12 starts. He, too, has been able to provide solid length in his recent starts, but only made it to the fourth in his last outing against the Giants.

Update: Lane Thomas has been scratched from tonight's lineup. He was hit by a pitch in the right wrist last night. Stone Garrett is now in right and batting sixth.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 88 degrees, wind 8 mph out to left field

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Alu finally barrels up first homer

Jake Alu with Lane Thomas

Jake Alu made his major league debut on May 9 in San Francisco. He recorded his first hit on May 12 in D.C. against the Mets. He drove in his first run here on Aug. 1 against the Brewers and got his first extra-base hit three days later in Cincinnati.

But he hadn’t yet hit one over the fence. Until last night.

The 26-year-old rookie, who was a 24th-round pick in 2019 out of Boston College, finally hit his first home run in last night’s 8-2 win over the Athletics.

Facing left-handed reliever Sam Long, the left bat hit a first-pitch 92-mph fastball 104 mph off the bat and 419 feet over the right-center field wall and trotted the bases for the first time on a major league diamond.

“Kind of was trying to get a swing off on a fastball, and I got it first pitch kind of up in the zone,” Alu said. “And I was able to barrel it up and finally get one out of there. “

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Nats cruise to victory after Adon departs early with cramps (updated)

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Tonight was supposed to be the first turn of the Nationals’ new six-man rotation, with Joan Adon making his second start since being inserted last week.

But the thing about a six-man rotation is that they need six men to pitch in it.

Adon’s availability moving forward is now in question after he was pulled from tonight’s 8-2 win over the Athletics with cramps in his legs while warming up for the fourth inning.

“I just started on my warmups and I felt it right away in my calf and in my groin a little bit," Adon said after the game, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. "One was my calf on one side and my groin on the other.”

The 26-year-old right-hander, who threw an impressive quality start Saturday in Cincinnati, threw a couple of warmup pitches to backup catcher Riley Adams in between the third and fourth innings. But before Keibert Ruiz could even get his catching gear on, manager Davey Martinez and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard were out of the dugout checking on the starting pitcher and then departed with him.

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Rainey and Harvey throw simulated innings at Nats Park

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Most of the Nationals clubhouse was surrounding the back of the batting cage on the field at Nats Park at around 4 p.m. They were all waiting to watch Tanner Rainey and Hunter Harvey throw their simulated innings.

The plan was for Rainey, who is still recovering from last year’s Tommy John surgery, to throw around 35-40 pitches. Harvey, who has been on the 15-day injured list since July 16 with a right elbow strain, was set to throw about 20-25 pitches.

Jeter Downs, Blake Rutherford, Michael Chavis and Riley Adams suited up to step into the box against their teammates.

Rainey went first, his first time stepping on the mound at Nats Park since July 4 of last year, with pitching coach Jim Hickey watching behind him and the rest of the coaching staff and teammates behind the cage.

Downs struck out, Rutherford got a base hit and Adams went deep down the left field line. But those results didn’t matter, as Rainey seemed satisfied when he stepped off the mound after his inning.

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Game 117 lineups: Nats vs. Athletics

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The Nationals are back home after a successful 4-3 road trip to Cincinnati and Philadelphia. Now they welcome the Athletics, who own the worst record in the majors at 33-82.

The Nats themselves are at 50-66, only five games back of their final 2022 record. They’ll have a chance to surpass that mark on this nine-game homestand.

Joan Adon, recently added as the sixth man in this rotation, will make his second start since rejoining the Nats last week. If you didn’t hear by now, he took a perfect game into the sixth inning before giving up a two-out single Saturday against the Reds. He finished with a quality start and seven strikeouts, earning him more opportunities to pitch at the major league level.

Veteran right-hander Paul Blackburn starts for the A’s in the opener. The 29-year-old is 2-5 with a 4.35 ERA and 1.500 WHIP in 12 games (11 starts) this year. He has been strong over his last three starts, pitching to a 1.56 ERA over 17 ⅓ innings including six shutout innings in his last outing against the Giants.

Blackburn has never faced the Nationals, nor has he faced any current Nats hitters. Same goes for Adon against the A’s.

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While still searching for his first hit, Nats want Rutherford to relax

Blake Rutherford BP

PHILADELPHIA – Blake Rutherford waited seven years to make his major league debut. Now he’s been waiting seven days for his first major league hit.

It’s a tough hurdle to cross for any player in his first taste of the majors. You have to find that perfect balance of staying true to your form while not pressing too much if it doesn’t come right away.

Rutherford is still hitless in his first five games with the Nationals. He’s been platooning in left field with Stone Garrett against right-handed starting pitchers, so he’ll likely get his next chance at his first knock tonight against A’s righty Paul Blackburn.

Five games over one’s first week in the majors is not enough of a sample size to make any judgements. The Nats will still give him plenty of opportunities in the near future. They just want to see him relax more.

“He definitely wants to get that one hit right away,” said manager Davey Martinez. “We need to get him to relax and hopefully … he gets that out of the way. Once you get that one, you kind of relax and drop your shoulders a little bit. But we're really trying to get him to relax.”

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Two-run homers bury Nats in series finale (updated)

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PHILADELPHIA – It’s almost impossible to stop them. All you can really do is try to limit them.

“That team over there was built to hit home runs,” manager Davey Martinez said earlier this week.

That they were and they showed it as they took three of four games from the Nationals, who lost Thursday’s finale 6-2 in front of 30,113 fans at Citizens Bank Park.

It was the usual suspects for the Phillies, who scored all six of their runs on three two-run homers. And it wouldn’t be a Nats-Phillies game without a former National doing some damage.

It was Trea Turner’s turn tonight, hitting a go-ahead two-run home run in the sixth to give Philly a 2-1 lead. Then Nick Castellanos (his third in the last two games) and J.T. Realmuto each hit two-run shots to put this game out of reach in the seventh.

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Nats set six-man rotation; Harvey and Rainey to face live hitters in D.C.

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PHILADELPHIA – The Nationals made the decision yesterday to move to a six-man rotation. What was still to be determined was the order in which those six starters would pitch.

They came to that decision today, announcing Joan Adon will start Friday’s series opener at home against the Athletics with Jake Irvin and Trevor Williams following for the rest of the weekend.

That means Josiah Gray will be the first to benefit from the extra rest afforded by the six-man rotation with a week in between starts as he’s lined up to start Tuesday’s series opener against the Red Sox. MacKenzie Gore and Patrick Corbin, tonight’s starter in the Phillies series finale, would then follow suit, each of them also getting a week in between starts.

“We're trying to spread the younger guys out a little bit and give them a couple of extra days off,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame media session. “So that's how we decided to do it and that's how it's gonna work out.”

Adon will make his second major league start tomorrow after pitching well in Saturday’s start in Cincinnati when he took a perfect game into the sixth inning and finished with a quality start. It remains to be seen how far the Nationals will push the 24-year-old, who has already surpassed his career high for total innings in a season.

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Game 116 lineups: Nats at Phillies

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PHILADELPHIA – “It's only one game, right? Come back tomorrow and go 1-0.”

That’s what Davey Martinez said last night after the Nationals were no-hit for the first time in team history by the Phillies’ Michael Lorenzen. And that’s what the Nats will try to do tonight in the series finale.

Looking for a four-game split, the Nats send Patrick Corbin to the mound for his 24th start of the season. He’s 7-11 with a 5.03 ERA and 1.496 WHIP and will try to get his ERA back under 5.00 for the first time since July 16. The southpaw hasn’t faced the Phillies yet this season, but he’s 6-9 with a 4.96 ERA and 1.467 WHIP in 19 career starts against them and 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA and 1.672 WHIP in eight starts at Citizens Bank Park.

The Nats offense will try to get a hit off Aaron Nola to shake off yesterday’s outcome. The veteran right-hander is 9-8 with a 4.58 ERA and 1.137 WHIP in 23 starts. Nola has also avoided the Nats so far this year, but brings a 7-8 record, 3.94 ERA and 1.220 WHIP against them in 28 career starts

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 6:40 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB Network (out-of-market only), MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Thunderstorms clearing, 73 degrees, wind 7 mph out to right-center field

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Ramifications of Nats' six-man rotation

Joan Adon blue jersey

PHILADELPHIA – Yesterday’s news that the Nationals are moving to a six-man rotation wasn’t surprising. It was more a matter of when they would finally decide to do it.

The time works out really well now.

Joan Adon is here and pitched well in his return to a major league mound on Saturday, pitching a perfect game through 6 ⅔ innings. He’s earned another chance to stick with the Nats.

Meanwhile, the young pitchers that have been here all season are entering the Dog Days of August and are either approaching or have already eclipsed their career highs in innings for a season. So, it’s a good time to give Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore and Jake Irvin extra rest for the home stretch.

But what other ramifications does a six-man rotation have?

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Nats no-hit for first time, ending longest active streak in majors (updated)

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PHILADELPHIA – It has never happened. Not in the team’s 18-year existence since relocating to Washington, D.C., in 2005.

The Nationals have never been no-hit.

In fact, entering today, the franchise had the longest active streak of avoiding a no-hitter dating back 24 years, 0 months and 22 days to David Cone’s perfect game against the Expos at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 1999.

That streak came to an end tonight as Michael Lorenzen, making his first home start for the Phillies since being acquired at the trade deadline from the Tigers, no-hit the Nationals in a 7-0 win in front of 30,406 raucous fans at Citizens Bank Park.

“That was the coolest moment of my baseball career, going out there for the ninth,” Lorenzen told reporters after the game. “Just walking out of the dugout and hearing the fans go wild, it gave me the chills. It gave me that boost of energy that I needed for sure."

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Nats to start using six-man rotation

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PHILADELPHIA – What has long been under consideration – and even to a lesser point expected – came to fruition this afternoon: The Nationals will start using a six-man rotation with Joan Adon getting inserted into the mix.

This has been a topic of conversation for some time now. It was almost more a matter of when not if.

And it makes sense for this young pitching staff. Josiah Gray and Jake Irvin are approaching their career highs in innings for a single season, and MacKenzie Gore has already surpassed his career high. And Irvin and Gore both have recent injury histories.

As for the veterans, Patrick Corbin has proven his durability as a starter throughout the course of a major league season. But Trevor Williams was used mostly as a reliever last year and has already pitched the most innings he has since 2019.

“We actually decided we're gonna go to a six-man rotation,” manager Davey Martinez announced during his pregame media session. “Adon's gonna be plopped in that spot. Just because with Jake Irvin, with Gore, even Josiah, I know he could finish out, he could throw a lot more innings, Trevor Williams who's been a reliever, we want to make sure that we keep their innings intact and understand what we're trying to do — not only for now but the future. So it made a lot of sense to us to bring Adon up here, give him an opportunity to pitch, but also stretch out our pitchers so that we can manage their innings a little bit better.

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Game 115 lineups: Nats at Phillies

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PHILADELPHIA – Two games down, two to go in this four-game set in the City of Brotherly Love.

After splitting yesterday’s doubleheader, the Nationals have won five of their last six games, six of their eight and seven of their last 10. Don’t look now, but they are only 1 ½ games back of the Mets in the National League East and down to single digits in the Wild Card race at only nine games back of the Reds and Cubs for the final playoff spot.

Don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, but just for comparison’s sake, they were 13 ½ games behind the fourth-place Marlins and 24 ½ games out of the final Wild Card spot at this time last year.

MacKenzie Gore will get his shot at some of the Phillies’ left-handed power hitters tonight. The southpaw is 6-8 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.420 WHIP in 22 starts. He too will be tasked to keep the Phillies in the ballpark after they hit five home runs between the two games yesterday. Gore has allowed 1.4 home runs per nine innings on the year, but has allowed four longballs over his four starts since the All-Star break.

He’s also looking for a little payback after getting knocked around for seven runs in just 2 ⅔ innings in his start here in early July.

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After early demotions, Machado providing strength in Nats bullpen

Andres Machado

PHILADELPHIA – Andrés Machado wasn’t really supposed to be in this situation. And if he was going to be, a lot of things would have to go right for him, starting with his own production.

The right-hander, who posted a respectable 3.41 ERA in 95 innings over 91 games for the Nationals between 2021-22, was the odd man out when Corey Dickerson signed in January. The reliever was designated for assignment to make room for the veteran outfielder on the roster.

Machado cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Rochester. He only pitched in 10 games the season with the Red Wings before the Nats selected his contract to the big league roster.

The first part of the season was rough for the 30-year-old. Over his first 14 games, he pitched to an 8.47 ERA, .347 batting average against and 1.037 OPS against with five walks and six homers in 17 innings.

The Nationals designated him for assignment again when they recalled Jordan Weems from Rochester in early June. This time, Machado had the option to elect free agency after clearing waivers. He chose instead to accept an assignment back with Rochester to stay in Washington’s system.

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Meneses blasts Nats to bounceback win in nightcap (updated)

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PHILADELPHIA – After an 8-4 loss in the doubleheader opener – in which the Phillies hit four home runs to the Nationals’ two – the plan for Washington in the nightcap was simple: keep the ball in the yard. And if you can continue to hit them out yourself, even better.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, home runs played a big role in the second game.

The Nationals were able to homer to take an early lead, homer to tie the game late and then homer to win 5-4 in the nightcap in front of 40,264 fans at Citizens Bank Park.

"As I always say, this team just keeps battling," manager Davey Martinez said after the second game. "You play hard for 27 outs, anything can happen in this ballpark. You just got to try to get the ball in the air."

Facing a 4-2 deficit thanks to a Bryce Harper two-run home run and Bryson Stott RBI single in the fifth, Joey Meneses responded with a two-run shot of his own in the seventh.

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Game 114 lineups: Nats at Phillies

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PHILADELPHIA – Now let’s play two!

The Nationals lost to the Phillies 8-4 in Game 1. Josiah Gray will try to get them back on the winning track, mainly by keeping the ball in the yard after the Phillies hit four home runs in the opener.

Gray is 7-9 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.426 WHIP over his first 22 starts. He has only surrendered 15 homers so far for a 2.8 home run rate, much better than the 38 homers and 5.9 homer rate he allowed last year. 

He is, however, coming off one of his worst starts of the season when he allowed five runs and couldn’t get out of the fourth inning last week against the Brewers. The good news is the right-hander has been good at bouncing back from tough outings this year and he pitches well at Citizens Bank Park. Gray has allowed two runs or less in two of his three career starts in Philly with 23 combined strikeouts.

Ranger Suárez starts the nightcap for the Phillies after he was originally scheduled to start yesterday’s postponed opener. He’s 6-1 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.336 WHIP in 13 appearances (six starts) against the Nats. The left-hander is 14-8 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.325 WHIP in 62 career games (30 starts) at Citizens Bank Park, but he’s 0-2 with a 5.70 ERA and 1.459 WHIP in seven home starts this year.

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