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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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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Game 119 lineups: Nats vs. Cubs

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The Nationals are going for their first series win since they won two-of-three against the Dodgers in Los Angeles three weeks ago.

Cory Abbott will face his former team for the first time as he makes his fourth start for the Nats. He pitched in seven games (one start) for the Cubs last year before being designated for assignment in April. He was eventually traded to the Giants and then claimed off waivers by the Nats in May.

Drew Smyly brings a 5-6 record and 3.69 ERA to the mound for the Cubs. The veteran left-hander didn’t face the Nats last week at Wrigley Field, but he is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in seven appearances (five starts) against Washington in his career.

CHICAGO CUBS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside of D.C. and Chicago markets only), MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, wind 4 mph in from left-center field 

NATIONALS
CF Lane Thomas
RF Joey Meneses
1B Luke Voit
DH Nelson Cruz
C Keibert Ruiz
2B César Hernández
SS CJ Abrams
LF Alex Call
3B Ildemaro Vargas 

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Robert Hassell III promoted to Double-A Harrisburg

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After CJ Abrams was promoted to make his Nationals debut on Monday, another prospect from the trade of Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres is rising through the ranks of the farm system.

Robert Hassell III was promoted from high Single-A Wilmington to Double-A Harrisburg today, as the Senators open a six-game homestand against the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers).

Currently the Nationals’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Hassell started 0-for-16 with the Blue Rocks before recording his first hit in the eighth inning of his fifth game in the Nats system. That started an 8-for-21 (.381) stretch over his next five games, including a 3-for-4 outing with two RBIs on Friday and a 2-for-4 game on Saturday.

Hassell, who turned 21 on Monday, finished 8-for-38 (.211) with a double, three RBIs, six walks and a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen bases at Wilmington.

The promotion to Harrisburg is a trickle-down effect from some roster moves at Triple-A Rochester aside from Abrams.

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Abrams to be everyday shortstop, García shifting to second base after IL stint

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A new era of Nationals baseball will get underway tonight on South Capitol Street. After the Juan Soto and Josh Bell reunion tours concluded in yesterday’s loss to the Padres, the first of the five prospects traded to Washington from San Diego will make his Nationals debut in the series opener against the Cubs.

Shortstop CJ Abrams was recalled from Triple-A Rochester this afternoon while Luis García landed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to Aug. 13) with a left groin strain. Abrams is starting at shortstop and batting seventh tonight in the first of three against Chicago.

“It's a new team. It's a new start. It's a great opportunity and I'm excited to get going,” Abrams said in front of his new locker with his old Padres bags on the floor and his new No. 5 Nationals jersey hanging inside.

With left-hander MacKenzie Gore on the injured list with left elbow inflammation and the other three prospects still a couple of years away from the major leagues, Abrams will be the first prospect from the mega trade with the Padres to appear in a game for the Nats.

“It's amazing,” he said. “Like I said, it's a good opportunity. So do my thing out there and have fun playing.”

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Hassell staying present while looking forward to future with Nats

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WILMINGTON, Del. – Robert Hassell III, like many of us, was surprised when he heard his name mentioned in a potential trade package for Juan Soto just 11 days ago.

He was sitting in his apartment in Fort Wayne, Ind. when he received the call from Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who told him that he was included with four fellow prospects and Luke Voit in a deal for Soto and Josh Bell.

The trade was made official later that day and Hassell packed his bags to head to the Nationals’ affiliate at high Single-A Wilmington.

The No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft made his debut with the Blue Rocks two days later, batting third and playing center field. He went 0-for-5, starting an 0-for-16 stretch to begin his career with the Nationals.

But that didn’t weigh heavy on his mind. He was still processing the trade and trying to get acclimated to his new team.

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Clippard and McGee activated, Fedde throws sim game, Gore plays catch

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Just like 10 days ago at the trade deadline, all the attention at Nationals Park is focused on Juan Soto and Josh Bell, who return to D.C. as members of the Padres after the historic deal.

And just like 10 days ago, even though all that attention is on the now former Nationals, the current club still has a game to get ready for tonight.

In order to do so, the Nats announced a handful of roster moves before tonight’s series opener against the Padres. Tyler Clippard has been returned from his rehab assignment and reinstated from the 15-day injured list and Jake McGee was activated to the active roster.

Clippard appeared in one game for the Nationals before being placed on the IL with a groin strain on July 22. He gave up one hit in two scoreless innings against the Braves on July 14. The veteran right-hander appeared in three rehab games with Triple-A Rochester, tossing four scoreless innings of relief across the three outings.

“Clippard, we felt like he's another guy, he's done well down in the minors for us,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame press conference. “As you know, he's a veteran guy, but he knows how to get guys out. He's got some funk to him. So I think he'll be able to help us, especially against some of our lefties because he has such a great changeup and a different look. So for me, it'll be kind of a guy that we can use against some guys where they go left-right-left, that we could possibly use him in that way.”

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Game 114 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

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It’s going to be quite a scene at Nationals Park tonight, with a national audience able to tune in as well.

Juan Soto and Josh Bell make their returns to D.C., now as members of the Padres, only 10 days after they were sent to San Diego for six players (including five prospects) in an historic deal at the trade deadline. Very rarely do players dealt at the deadline return to their former home ballparks in this short amount of time. Even more rarely are players of Soto and Bell’s caliber traded and then return to face their former club. 

There will be tribute videos played on the big screen at Nats Park for both Soto and Bell. Fans will give them standing ovations in their first at-bats. There may even be a couple of boos directed at the front office and ownership for making this trade in the first place. But what’s done is done. And the game moves along.

Cory Abbott takes the mound for his third start with the Nationals. He pitched five shutout innings against the Mets last week, but then gave up seven runs in 3 ⅔ innings against the Phillies on Sunday. 

Mike Clevinger brings a 3-4 record and 3.60 ERA to the bump for the Padres in the series opener. Twelve of the right-handers’ 13 appearances this year have been starts, while he has poasted a 3.43 ERA as a starter. Clevinger gave up six runs over 5 ⅔ innings in his only career start against the Nats back in 2019.

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New prospect rankings reflect Nats’ revamped farm system

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After the Nationals lost their seventh of their last eight games yesterday, it would seem now is a good time to look at some recent prospect rankings.

We’ll be doing this a lot over the coming months and even seasons, so be sure to stay tuned.

The Nationals revamped their farm system and entered a full rebuild after trading their best players at back-to-back trade deadlines and signed 19 of their 20 picks in last month’s MLB Draft.

And national publications are taking notice of the new prospects in the Nats’ minor league system.

Baseball America released their updated prospect rankings earlier this week, the top 30 for each major league club and the top 100 overall.

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Green homers in pro debut, Susana strikes out four in Nats farm debut

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Try not to get too excited, but it's hard not to take notice of some impressive debuts for a couple of the newest Nationals prospects.

Elijah Green homered in his professional debut and Jarlin Susana struck out four in his Nats farm debut at the Rookie-level Florida Complex League this afternoon.

Green, the No. 5 overall pick in last month’s MLB Draft, sent the second pitch of his second at-bat over the left-field wall of one of the back fields at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The right-handed hitter with a 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame at the age of 18 was scouted as a five-tool player with tremendous upside heading into the draft. On the 20-80 grading scale, he already is rated with 60 power and 70 speed.

Green played center field and hit third for the FCL Nationals. He struck out looking on three pitches in his first at-bat (at least according to the MiLB.com box score) and finished 1-for-4 with the home run and three strikeouts in his first professional game.

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Looking at some position battles for remainder of the season

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Believe it or not, the Nationals only have 52 games left this season. We have hit the home stretch of the summer.

Obviously, this franchise is going in a different direction than it has in the past. Selling your best players in back-to-back trade deadlines will do that.

But with sell-offs come exciting prospects and opportunities for young players to play for a spot on the roster for the remainder of the season and in the future.

Guys are going to get the chance to play and the Nationals will be watching.

“Yeah, I want to see these guys,” manager Davey Martinez said before yesterday’s finale in Philadelphia. “I want to see as many guys as I can play. Like I said, we're building for the future. But that being said, you're also trying to compete today. So I want to see these guys go out there and compete, and see which guys go out there and battle and play the game. It's a time where it's frustrating because we're not winning games. But it's also a time that we can learn a lot about the guys that we have moving forward.”

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Nats swept out of Philly with another blowout loss (updated)

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PHILADELPHIA – The first five games of the post-Juan Soto and Josh Bell era have been difficult for the Nationals. And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier.

“They were big parts of the team," manager Davey Martinez said of Soto and Bell. "But for me, it's about giving guys another opportunity. These guys get an opportunity to come up here and play and show what they can do the last two months.”

The Nationals were swept out of Philly today via a 13-1 loss to the Phillies, their fifth straight loss overall and ninth in their last 11 games.

“You know, after the first day, which I thought we played well, game got cut short because of rain, and then the last three games were just not fun," Martinez said. "We got to pitch better. I thought we swung the bats OK 'til today. But we got to pitch better and we gotta get some better starting pitching. We're always behind. It's tough for morale. We do the best we can to keep these guys going, keep the guys positive. As you can see, man, they play. But I mean, we're always behind, so we got to start scoring first and get some better starting pitching.”

The Nats are now 36-74 this season, which puts them on pace to finish 53-109. That would be their worst record in franchise history since the Expos finished 52-110 in their first season in 1969 and the first 100-loss season in club history since 2009.

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Nats recall Thompson, option Weems before Philly finale

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PHILADELPHIA – Needing bullpen help after Patrick Corbin only recorded two outs in last night’s loss to the Phillies, the Nationals recalled right-hander Mason Thompson from Triple-A Rochester and optioned right-hander Jordan Weems to Rochester before today’s finale at Citizens Bank Park.

“We made a move today. We sent Jordan down, brought up Mason Thompson,” manager Davey Martinez announced during his pregame press conference. “Just to add another fresh arm in our bullpen after yesterday's game.”

Weems threw a season-high 57 pitches over 2 ⅓ innings in relief of Corbin yesterday, making him the odd man out today. He has a 6.57 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 10 walks in 24 ⅔ innings over 21 appearances with the Nationals this season.

“The thing about it is, players know. And they know when you have options, it's part of it,” Martinez said of his conversation with Weems. “It's the unfortunate part of it. And I told him yesterday, even though he threw a lot of pitches that second inning, he goes back out. And that was huge for us that he could go back out there and finish. And it really helped our bullpen out a lot. So we'll be in good shape today with our bullpen. Like I said, with Mason here now, that helps out a lot.”

Thompson has been effective in his time with the Nationals this season. But he didn’t pitch in high-leverage situations, with all of his seven appearances coming when the Nats were trailing. He only gave up one hit and two walks while striking out four over six innings.

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Game 110 lineups: Nats at Phillies

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PHILADELPHIA – The Nationals will look to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies today before heading to the north side of Chicago tonight.

Cory Abbott takes the mound for his third major league start after making his first start with the Nationals on Tuesday, when he pitched five shutout innings against the Mets. The right-hander’s Nationals debut actually came against the Phillies on June 19, when he pitched a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout to close a 9-3 win. 

Aaron Nola makes his 22nd start of the season for the Phillies this afternoon. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 1.72 ERA over his first two starts against the Nats this season. He pitched eight shutout innings with eight strikeouts at Nationals Park on June 18 and then gave up three runs in 7 ⅔ innings here at Citizens Bank Park on July 6. 

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside of D.C. and Philadelphia markets only), MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 91 degrees, wind 13 mph out to right field 

NATIONALS
CF Lane Thomas
SS Luis García
1B Luke Voit
DH Nelson Cruz
LF Yadiel Hernandez
C Keibert Ruiz
RF Josh Palacios
2B César Hernández
3B Ildemaro Vargas 

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Martinez intrigued by new young talent in Nats system

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PHILADELPHIA – It’s a demanding job being a major league manager. All the pressure in the world lies on your shoulders. You don’t get enough credit when you win and you get all of the blame when you lose.

For eight to nine months of the year, Davey Martinez has to worry about the 26 players he has on the Nationals’ active roster. He often even has to worry about the guys that make up the 40-man roster and some of the players in the upper levels of the minor league system.

Needless to say, this is a busy time of year for Martinez. He has his plate totally full.

But even he can’t help himself in checking out the new young prospects the Nationals received in the Juan Soto-Josh Bell trade with the Padres on Tuesday. Three of the five prospects – outfielder James Wood at low Single-A Fredericksburg, outfielder Robert Hassell III at high Single-A Wilmington and shortstop C.J. Abrams at Triple-A Rochester – made their organizational debuts over the last couple of days. And Martinez was impressed with what he saw.

“Yeah, as I said before, I got 26 guys here that I worry about,” Martinez said before Saturday’s game against the Phillies. “But it's good to see that these young guys are doing well. We got some guys, I check up on all our guys. We got some guys down there that are having really good years, and that's really, really good to see.”

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Corbin rocked again as Nats face more tough questions with veteran lefty

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PHILADELPHIA – The Nationals have very tough questions to face with Patrick Corbin. As if that wasn’t already the case, the situation seems to be getting worse and worse every time the veteran lefty takes the mound.

For the second time in his last three starts, Corbin only recorded two outs in the first inning before being pulled from the game. He was charged with six runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on July 27.

Tonight he was charged with six runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning at Citizens Bank Park in an eventual 11-5 loss to the Phillies.

Luke Voit’s first home run with the Nationals (and team-leading 14th of the season), Tres Barrera’s two-run double and Victor Robles’ infield RBI single in the sixth, and Lane Thomas’ sacrifice fly in the seventh produced the only runs. Voit’s longball went 379 feet to right-center field.

“He's having really good at-bats,” manager Davey Martinez said of Voit. “Like I said, when we got him, I knew that he can hit. He's fit nicely in our lineup and he's proving that now.”

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