Wood, House to represent Nats at All-Star Futures Game

james wood red

The Nationals will have two of their top prospects representing the organization at next month’s All-Star Futures Game.

Outfielder James Wood and third baseman Brady House have been selected to represent the Nats in the 2023 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, the announcement coming tonight on MLB Network.

Wood, 20, is the No. 5 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America and the No. 6 prospect per MLBPipeline.com’s recently updated rankings. As the Nats’ top overall prospect per both publications, he leads the Nats’ minor league system in home runs (12), RBIs (52), slugging percentage (.536), OPS (tied for first, .903), triples (six), extra-base hits (33) and total bases (128).

From April 25 to May 28, Wood posted a 30-game on-base streak, the longest active streak in all of Minor League Baseball at the time. He hit .299 with a .415 on-base percentage and a .626 slugging percentage during that stretch.

In 66 games between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg, Wood has hit .272 with 15 doubles, six triples, 12 homers, 52 RBIs, 37 walks, 13 stolen bases and 46 runs scored. He was promoted to Harrisburg on May 28, an early promotion compared to some of the Nats’ top prospects of the past. In the week leading up his promotion to Double-A, Wood went 9-for-19 (.474) with a double, triple, three home runs, seven RBIs, four walks, two stolen bases and eight runs scored in his last five games with the Blue Rocks.

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Hill getting chance to be Nats' everyday center fielder

Derek Hill blue home

The Nationals made an interesting choice when placing Victor Robles back on the 10-day injured list with back spasms in the lumbar spine.

They could have recalled Alex Call, who was originally optioned down to Triple-A Rochester when Robles was activated Friday, even though it was within 10 days because he would have been replacing an injured player.

But they chose to select the contract of Derek Hill instead.

This is a developmental and evaluation year. The Nats have already seen 64 games of Call, who only hit .209 in the majors. Now it’s time to see what Hill has to offer. Plus, had he not strained his right hamstring in the beginning of March, Hill might have made the Opening Day roster out of spring training instead of Call or Stone Garrett.

“It feels great,” Hill said of being back in a major league clubhouse. “Obviously, this is the dream to play in the big leagues even if you've been here before. I'm just excited to come up here and do whatever I can to help the team.”

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Irvin sharp, Martinez ejected and Nats sloppy in loss (updated)

Jake Irvin Whites

Although they lost an off-day, the Nationals were hoping to use this makeup game against the Diamondbacks to create some momentum before heading out on a nine-game road trip.

Yesterday’s win over the Cardinals was only their fourth since the start of June. Putting together back-to-back wins to end this homestand would have made for a happy flight out west.

Davey Martinez applauded his team for playing clean baseball during yesterday’s rainy conditions. But the Nats got sloppy again, committing two errors and allowing four unearned runs in a 5-3 loss to the D-backs in front of 13,251 fans who withstood the misty weather.

"We can't give good teams 28-29 outs. We can't," Martinez said after their 14th loss this month. "I think we had four unearned runs today. Take those away and we're right in the ballgame. So we gotta get better at that, we really do. And if we do that, we're going to be able to compete. So we got to just come back tomorrow and play a good, clean baseball game and see where we're at.”

Weird circumstances surrounded today’s getaway game, which technically was recognized as a one-game series since it was rescheduled from June 8 due to poor air quality in the D.C. area from the Canada wildfires.

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With lost off-day, Martinez finding some rest for Nats

Candelario Smith Meneses blue away

Two weeks ago, the Nationals were looking at this date on the calendar and expecting to spend their off-day in sunny San Diego. But because of the postponement of the June 8 finale against the Diamondbacks due to the poor air quality from the Canada wildfires, they’re instead still in cloudy D.C. ready to play an early afternoon makeup game.

That made for an odd schedule this week to end this seven-game homestand before the team embarks on a nine-game road trip, which starts with six consecutive games on the West Coast. They had a late afternoon start on Monday for the Juneteenth federal holiday. They had another 4 p.m. start yesterday as it was still a getaway day for the Cardinals, who had a transatlantic flight to London to play two games against the Cubs. And now they have this early afternoon game against the D-backs, who arrived from Milwaukee last night and will also travel back to the West Coast tonight.

The lost off-day means the Nationals are in the middle of a stretch with games scheduled for 16 straight days. So Davey Martinez has to get creative in finding ways to give guys some rest.

“This would have been a nice day off for us, obviously,” the skipper said during his pregame press conference. “And it would have been in San Diego, which is kind of nice. But you know what, we got to play today. So I know these guys will be ready to play. But finding days off, we played so many days in a row.”

Today’s lineup against the Diamondbacks and left-handed starter Tommy Henry features some regulars getting the day off and some others playing in different positions.

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Game 74 lineups: Nats vs. Diamondbacks

Jake irvin blues

And we’re back. After the Nationals finally got a win here yesterday to end their series against the Cardinals, they’re right back to play today’s makeup game against the Diamondbacks. What should have been the series finale between these two teams two weeks ago was postponed due to the poor air quality from the Canada wildfires to make this now a one-game series before both clubs head to the West Coast tonight.

Jake Irvin will make his ninth major league start this afternoon, seventh here at Nats Park. The rookie bounced back to pitch well on Saturday after having his spot in the rotation skipped the week before, tossing five innings of one-run ball against the Marlins. In his start against the D-backs two weeks ago, he gave up four runs (three earned), five hits and three walks in just four-plus innings.

In a rematch of that June 6 game against Irvin, Tommy Henry will start for the Diamondbacks. The 25-year-old left-hander was tagged for five runs over 4 ⅓ innings, including a grand slam by Stone Garrett in the second inning and a leadoff homer by Lane Thomas in the fifth. In his two starts since against the Phillies and Guardians, Henry gave up seven runs over 10 ⅔ innings for a 5.91 ERA.

While all day yesterday there was rain in the forecast for today, it now seems like we’ll be much drier this afternoon, with the rain supposedly not starting again until this evening.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Cloudy, 67 degrees, wind 8 mph in from left field

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More on Robles' injury and defensive positioning

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There have been some very bizarre circumstances and confusing statements surrounding Victor Robles’ back injury.

It all started on May 7 when the 26-year-old first hurt his back while sliding into second base during a game against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. He was placed on the 10-day injured list the following day with what the team then called “back spasms.”

After a while, the injury was suspected to be more serious. It took Robles three weeks to start running and doing agility work. Then a few days later, he started taking full rounds of batting practice.

That was finally a sign he was improving and ready to start working his way back to the team. He started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on June 9 and reached base in all four games with the Red Wings, going 4-for-7 (.571) with a double, two home runs, five RBIs, a walk and five runs scored in his final two outings.

The time came Friday for Robles to be reinstated from the IL, with Alex Call being optioned down to Rochester. After his first three games back over the weekend, the oddities surrounding Robles were on display Monday and Tuesday.

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Nats beat rain and Cardinals to avoid another sweep (updated)

Trevor Williams Blues

The situation surrounding this afternoon’s finale between the Nationals and Cardinals was a tricky one.

Rain was in the forecast all day today in the District of Columbia, with only a brief window right around the 4:05 p.m. scheduled start time. The Nationals have a makeup game against the Diamondbacks scheduled for 1 p.m. tomorrow (with more rain in the forecast), with both teams traveling back to the West Coast afterward. And the Cardinals have a transatlantic flight out of D.C. tonight for their two-game weekend series against the Cubs in London.

All of that made for a lot of uncertainty on South Capitol Street.

But as if both teams understood the assignment of playing fast, the Nats and Cards were able to complete this one in a swift 2 hours and 12 minutes, with the home team finally emerging victorious 3-0 in front of a damp 16,191 fans.

This one couldn’t have been scripted better when it came to the weather. A drizzle started in the top of the second inning and had turned into actual rainfall as the game moved into the third.

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Robles and Edwards land on IL, Hill and La Sorsa join Nats

Victor Robles run white

An odd Tuesday night has turned into a busy Wednesday afternoon here at Nationals Park.

After some misplays in the field, a confrontation with MacKenzie Gore in the dugout and questions about his health, Victor Robles was placed back on the 10-day injured list today with back spasms in the lumbar spine, with the Nationals selecting the contract of Derek Hill from Triple-A Rochester to take his spot on the active roster

It was a rough couple of days in the field since Robles was reinstated from the IL on Friday after he seemingly recovered the same back spasms that had him inactive since May 8. On Monday, he got a late break on a ball over his head that turned into an RBI triple after he crashed into the wall trying to get back to make the catch. Then last night, he let a ball land in front of him while slowly moving to his left, leading to the animated discussion with Gore. Later in the game, he only made it to first base on a line drive off the left field wall and then struggled to go first-to-third on CJ Abrams’ double to right-center.

Davey Martinez mentioned after the game that he was going to have a discussion with Robles to see how he felt.

“We made a move today. We put Victor on the IL,” Martinez said before this afternoon’s finale against the Cardinals. “As I said last night, I was gonna have a conversation with him. I talked to him last night. I had to really stress that he needed to be honest with me. And he said he was a bit sore and that it bothered him running. It doesn't bother him hitting, it bothers him running.

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Game 73 lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals (Robles back on IL)

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It doesn’t get any easier to say, but it remains true: The Nationals need a win. Ideally, they would win their next two games to end this homestand on a somewhat positive note. They’re 0-5 since returning to D.C. last week and have only won two of their last 15 games.

Trevor Williams gets the start this afternoon in the finale against the Cardinals. The right-hander is 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.414 WHIP in his first 14 starts. He was roughed up for five runs over 4 ⅓ innings Friday against the Marlins.

Miles Mikolas gets the ball for St. Louis. The 34-year-old right-hander is 4-4 with a 4.36 ERA and 1.362 WHIP over his first 14 starts this season. He too has been beat up by opposing lineups recently, giving up 11 runs over 12 innings for an 8.25 ERA over his last two starts against the Reds and Mets.

The Nationals made a roster move this afternoon, placing Victor Robles back on the 10-day with back spasms in the lumbar spine and selected the contract of Derek Hill from Triple-A Rochester. Hill is immediately in the lineup, batting eighth and playing center field.

Unfortunately, there is rain in the forecast all day in the District. The Cardinals depart D.C. tonight for their two-game series against the Cubs in London this weekend, while the Nats have to bounce back for a makeup game against the Diamondbacks here tomorrow afternoon (which also has rain in the forecast) before they head to the West Coast for the fourth time.

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Back from the IL, Robles hopes to find his swing again

Victor Robles run white

After missing 33 games, Victor Robles finally returned to the Nationals lineup last night.

Before the series opener against the Marlins, a 6-5 loss, the Nationals returned Robles from his rehab assignment and reinstated him from the 10-day injured list while optioning Alex Call down to Triple-A Rochester. Robles had been on the IL since May 8 with what the team originally called back spasms.

But it turned out to be a slightly more serious back injury that kept him sidelined for over a month.

“When I first hit the injured list, the biggest thing I was very frustrated,” Robles said via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “Frustrated with the fact that I wasn't able to swing. I felt like my back was real tight and it made me immobile a little bit. But with the hard work of our trainers here, they've done a great job of trying to get me back on the field. And I still feel it a little bit running, but overall I feel good swinging the bat.”

He had no problem swinging the bat before the injury, hitting .292 with four doubles, a triple, eight RBIs, 10 walks, 13 runs and eight stolen bases in 31 games to start the season. And he picked up right where he left off when he was finally able to start a rehab assignment with Rochester, reaching base in all four games and going 4-for-7 (.571) with a double, two home runs, five RBIs, a walk and five runs scored in his final two outings with the Red Wings.

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Nats still can't beat Marlins as they drop series opener (updated)

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The Nationals came into this weekend’s three-game series against the Marlins needing to find some way to beat their divisional foes.

Entering tonight, the Nats were 4-18 with a -41 run differential against the Fish since the start of last season. They played tight but were ultimately swept out of Miami last month, losing all three games by a total of four runs.

The Marlins aren’t world-beaters. Although they began the night in second place in the National League East, they had a -30 run differential on the year.

That ever so slightly improved tonight as did their record against the Nats. Despite another hard-fought game, the Nationals dropped the series opener 6-5 in front of an announced crowd of 22,379 at Nats Park, with the Marlins improving to 18-5 in one-run games already this season.

“We were down. We got a good pitcher in there. We come back," manager Davey Martinez said after the loss. "Score some runs early and then the bats, we had a couple of opportunities to score again. We just couldn't capitalize. And then big moment, ball up the middle. I think that inning really started with the walk. We always talk about not walking guys because, especially early in innings, it's gonna bite you. But overall, I thought you know we did well, we played well, we came back, we kept coming back. We just couldn't score any runs at the end.”

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Robles reinstated from IL, Call optioned to Rochester

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Victor Robles walked into the Nationals clubhouse with a little more hop in his step than he had over the past month-plus. He wasn’t very mobile or flexible while dealing with a back injury that had him on the 10-day injured list since May 8.

Robles was back to his energetic self today because he was returned from his rehab assignment and reinstated to the active roster this afternoon, while Alex Call was optioned to Triple-A Rochester in a corresponding move.

“We made a move today before the game,” manager Davey Martinez said to open his pregame media session ahead of tonight’s opener against the Marlins. “Victor is back with us. He checked all the boxes down there. He feels really good. So we optioned Call down. Look, I can't say enough about Alex. He played unbelievable defense for us. He was out there every day. He's an unbelievable competitor, a good teammate. We want to send him down and kind of get his swing straightened out a little bit. I don't think it'll be the last you've seen of Alex. But he was struggling a little bit with the bat. So we get Victor back. He was swinging the bat really well before he got hurt. So hopefully he'll jump-start us again.”

Robles was off to a good start to the season, hitting .292 with four doubles, a triple, eight RBIs, 10 walks, 13 runs and eight stolen bases in 31 games before he was placed on the IL. And he continued that success in his rehab in Rochester, reaching base in all four games and going 4-for-7 (.571) with a double, two home runs, five RBIs, a walk and five runs scored in his final two outings with the Red Wings.

The 26-year-old is back in center field and batting eighth tonight as the Nats face reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara. But even as he’s thrust back into the starting lineup, the Nats will continue to monitor how his back is feeling.

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Game 68 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

Victor Robles leap white

After a 2-4 road trip, the Nationals have lost five straight series, all coming against tough opponents. And depending on how you view the Marlins, another one is on deck this weekend.

The Fish are 38-31 and in second place in the National League East, but have the second-worst run differential in the division at -30. Their bread and butter is one-run games in which they are a stunning 17-5, including two out of the three games they won against the Nats in May.

Of course, the Nats have struggled against the Marlins for a while. They are 4-18 against their division rivals since the start of last year.

Trevor Williams gets the start in tonight’s opener. The right-hander is 3-4 with a 4.11 ERA and 1.355 WHIP in his first 13 starts. He has set season highs with six strikeouts in back-to-back outings and turned in a quality start against the Marlins the last time these two teams met.

Sandy Alcantara gets the call for the Fish. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner has not put up the kind of numbers we’re used to seeing from the right-hander, going only 2-5 with a 4.75 ERA on the year. But he did hold the White Sox to one run over seven innings in his last start.

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Homegrown House and Lipscomb earn promotions

Brady House Wilmington

When it comes to the Nationals’ farm, a lot of attention turns to James Wood and Robert Hassell III. And rightfully so as they are the top two prospects in the organization and two of the five that came back in the blockbuster Juan Soto trade.

But there are other top prospects making moves in the minor league system who were here even before that trade.

Brady House and Trey Lipscomb can both be found on top 30 Nats prospects rankings by many outlets. And both played well enough to start the season to rise the ranks of the minor leagues.

Less than two weeks after Wood earned a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg, House was promoted to High-A Wilmington and Lipscomb to Harrisburg, the first tastes of those levels for both prospects.

“Two of our young prospects,” Nats manager Davey Martinez said Friday of the promotions. “Brady has been swinging the bat really well, so he gets promoted up to Wilmington. And then Lipscomb, who I really liked in spring training, can play the field and swing the bat as well. He gets the opportunity to go to Double-A and see what he can do in Double-A.”

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Nats' big bats hoping to start carrying offense

Candelario Smith Meneses blue away

When the Nationals constructed their lineup over the offseason, they were relying on two new signings and a 31-year-old second-year player to carry much of the offense.

Jeimer Candelario and Dominic Smith were brought in to help Joey Meneses supply some power to Davey Martinez’s lineup.

Candelario led the major leagues with 42 doubles in 2021. Smith had a .993 OPS in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. And Meneses caught the sport’s attention with an impressive two months to end last season, his first taste of the majors.

Not a bad plan. But through 65 games, it’s had some mixed results.

Most of the struggles have come from Smith, who has just two home runs, 16 RBIs, a .263 average and .654 OPS through his first 62 games. But a big two-run homer that traveled 444 feet (the longest of his career) in the sixth inning of Sunday’s win over the Braves hopefully will kickstart Smith’s offensive production.

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Nats return to Houston for first time since World Series

Nationals World Series

Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

It’s hard not to as the Nationals make their first visit to Houston since winning the 2019 World Series in Game 7 at Minute Maid Park. And I don’t really like reminiscing too much about something that happened four years ago.

There have been three different World Series champions since the Nats won it all. And in that time, the Nats have had three straight last-place finishes in the National League East.

The team looks completely different now, too. There is only one player from that 2019 roster currently on the Nats’ active 26-man roster: Patrick Corbin, who coincidentally was credited as the winning pitcher in Game 7 after three shutout innings of relief and will start tonight’s series opener. There are only three other players from that team on this 40-man roster: Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Rainey and Victor Robles, all recovering from injuries.

There are a couple of guys still with the organization. Sean Doolittle and Matt Adams are on minor league deals, trying to work their way back to the majors. But a lot of the big-name players are now gone.

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Wood has wild weekend at Double-A Harrisburg

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It was only a matter of time before James Wood made a big splash at Double-A Harrisburg.

After getting the promotion for High-A Wilmington on May 28, he only collected one hit over his first three Double-A games.

He’s been on a tear ever since.

Since the start of June, the Nats’ top prospect is 11-for-37 with four doubles, three home runs, eight RBIs and a walk with the Senators.

This past weekend proved to be Wood’s biggest yet.

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Nats flip script to end losing streak, blast past Braves (updated)

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ATLANTA – It was raining heavily here this morning. There was a point when the forecast didn’t look conducive to playing baseball.

But the rain cleared out, the tarp was removed from the infield and this afternoon’s finale between the Nationals and Braves went off without a hitch.

And as the clouds cleared out for sunny skies, so did the clouds that have been hovering over this Nationals team this last week.

The Nats snapped their six-game losing streak, and in the process also snapped the Braves’ seven-game winning streak, with a 6-2 victory in front of 36,744 fans at Truist Park.

Just as I wrote this morning that the Nats were in search of more power, they found it.

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Nats skipping Irvin's next turn in rotation

irvin 1st mlb win @ SF

ATLANTA – The Nationals are going to use these couple of off-days over this week to give one of their young starters some extra rest.

Jake Irvin will have his next start skipped in the rotation, with the Nats listing Patrick Corbin, Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore as the probable starters for the upcoming three-game series against the Astros.

Thursday’s postponement due to poor air quality in D.C. and tomorrow’s scheduled off-day as the team travels to Houston mean the Nats have two off-days over a five-day span.

“We have an opportunity to do some different things, and to give him a break was nice,” manager Davey Martinez said of the decision to skip Irvin before today’s series finale against the Braves. “We're gonna eventually have to do that with all of our young guys here soon. We had these days off coming up, so we thought we'd give Jake a breather. But you know, he can be available out of the bullpen as well. We just want to not have him start and then he'll get back in the rotation next time around.”

Irvin, the Nats’ No. 19 prospect per MLB Pipeline, impressed over his first two major league starts. He allowed just one run in 4 ⅓ innings in his debut against the Cubs and then shut out the Giants over 6 ⅓ innings in his second outing.

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Game 64 lineups: Nats at Braves

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ATLANTA – The Nationals need a stopper and they need one badly. Or do they need more offense and need that badly?

They could use both as they try to snap this six-game losing streak and escape Atlanta with at least one win today.

Trevor Williams will attempt to be the stopper. The right-hander is 2-4 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.335 WHIP in his first 12 starts. He has completed five innings in all but two of his outings, with one being cut short due the rain-prompted suspension of the Nats' May 13 game against the Mets.

This is his first time facing the Braves in 2023, but he is 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.150 WHIP in eight career appearances (four starts) against Atlanta.

The offense has a tough task in trying to get going against Bryce Elder. The 24-year-old right-hander leads the National League with a 2.26 ERA, while posting a 4-0 record and 1.144 WHIP over his first 12 starts.

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