Draft tracker: Nats make Day 2 picks of 2022 draft (final update)

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The second day of the 2022 MLB Draft is underway, with the Nationals set to make eight picks between the third and 10th rounds this afternoon.

They started this year’s draft by selecting 18-year-old outfielder Elijah Green out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The son of former NFL tight end Eric Green, he is said to potentially be “an impactful superstar,” according to longtime assistant general manager and vice president of scouting operations Kris Kline.

In the second round, the Nats selected left-hander Jake Bennett out of the University of Oklahoma. They got their big starting pitcher in Bennett, who is listed as 6-foot-6 with a wingspan over 70 inches on the mound. The Nats previously drafted Bennett out of Bixby (Okla.) High School in the 39th round of the 2019 draft, but the southpaw decided to follow high school teammate and current top prospect Cade Cavalli to Norman. They are now reunited in the Nats farm system.

Then they turned their attention to the eight picks on Monday, and by the end of the afternoon, the Nats had eight more prospects for their minor league system.

“I thought it went really, really well," Kline said on a Zoom call with reporters after the conclusion of the 10th round. "It was one of those drafts where it was a position-player-heavy draft. And so the pitchers you wanted, you either got them or you didn't. You ID'd them early. Some of them were hurt. Some of them were healthy and got hurt. Some were hurt and got healthy. It was just one of those years.”

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Should Soto participate in the Home Run Derby again?

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We saw this happen last year.

Everyone was panicking because Juan Soto’s overall offensive numbers weren’t up to his superstar standards about one-third of the way through the season. Then around mid-June, he started heating up at the plate and went into the All-Star break as one of the game’s hottest hitters.

People debated whether or not he should participate in the Home Run Derby, an event known for ruining hitters’ swings, after finally rediscovering his rhythm at the plate. But Soto did it anyway, hitting 46 home runs before being eliminated in the semifinals by eventual champion Pete Alonso.

“This is the time of year where I think he does start heating up,” Davey Martinez said of Soto. “I don't know why that is, because he always has his streaks in the beginning when he hits the ball really well. But he's swinging the bat really well right now.”

We’re now seeing almost the same story play out in 2022, which again brings up the question: Should Soto participate in the Home Run Derby?

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Soto named to All-Star Game, Bell left off roster

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ATLANTA – The rules say every team needs at least one representative in the All-Star Game, so despite a disappointing season, we knew there would be at least one Nationals player going to Los Angeles for this year’s Midsummer Classic.

That player is Juan Soto, announced on the “MLB All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN.

“It feels great to be part of it representing the Washington Nationals,” Soto said of his selection after today’s loss to the Braves. “It feels great to be out there and be on the list of all the All-Stars that the Washington Nationals have had in the past. And to be around those guys, it feels great.”

There was a lot of speculation as to whether Soto or Josh Bell or both would join Davey Martinez on Braves manager Brian Snitker’s National League team at Dodger Stadium. Now we know it will just be the left-handed slugging outfielder going to his second straight All-Star Game.

“It means a lot not only for me, but for the organization,” Soto said. “To represent the Washington Nationals out there and knowing that Davey is coming with me is gonna be great. We'll see how fun it's gonna be and how excited we will be.”

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Nats swept out of Atlanta with extra-inning loss (updated)

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ATLANTA – When it rains, it pours. An ironic use of that phrase on a beautiful day just outside downtown Atlanta.

But it’s true for the Nationals, who dropped their fourth straight game and were swept by the Braves with today’s 4-3 loss in 12 innings in front of 32,053 at Truist Park.

Jordan Weems, who pitched two impressive scoreless innings Friday night, was charged with the bottom of the 12th. The Nats intentionally walked Matt Olson to put two runners on for the right-hander. Austin Riley, who hit the tying home run in the eighth inning, stepped up to the plate and delivered the game-winning RBI single.

Tanner Rainey put up two zeros in the 10th and 11th innings, not without some tense moments, though.

Going back to the seventh, Davey Martinez brought in Kyle Finnegan to face the top of the Braves order and protect a 3-2 lead. Finnegan struck out the side easily, and since he last pitched Wednesday, he was plenty rested to go back out for a second inning.

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Harvey reinstated, Adon optioned and Tetreault transferred

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ATLANTA – Hunter Harvey was seen in the Nationals clubhouse this morning before the series finale against the Braves at Truist Park. His hair is hard to miss.

That meant a roster move was coming. When it became official about 30 minutes later, the Nats had reinstated Harvey, optioned Joan Adon to Triple-A Rochester and transferred Jackson Tetreault to the 60-day injured list.

“I've been feeling a lot better since the last time, so that's always a plus,” Harvey said at his locker of his recovery from a right pronator strain. 

The Nationals placed him on the injured list on April 21 after he pitched only 2 ⅔ scoreless innings over four appearances. Now after missing 71 games, he’s finally back.

“It took a little bit longer than we wanted to,” Harvey said of his rehab. “I had a couple of setbacks, but we took a little bit extra time and made sure everything was OK, and now I feel a lot better than I did before.”

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Game 88 lineups: Nats at Braves

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ATLANTA – The Nationals need a win today to salvage this three-game series against the Braves and end this mostly miserable road trip on a high note.

Paolo Espino will lead them on the mound as he makes his sixth consecutive start. The right-hander hasn’t posted similar numbers as a starter to those he did when he was strictly a reliever. In 20 appearances out of the bullpen, he had a 2.03 ERA over a mainly low-leverage 26 ⅔ innings. Since he joined the rotation on June 12, Espino is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA in 22 innings over five starts. He gave up three runs in one inning of relief against the Braves in his second outing of the season on April 12.

For the offense, Ian Anderson may present the best opportunity to do some damage off a Braves starter. The right-hander is 7-5 with a 5.09 ERA over his first 16 starts of the season. He gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in four innings plus three batters against the Nats on June 13. He has a 9.82 ERA in just 11 innings over his last three starts.

César Hernández is on the bench and not in his usual leadoff spot, with Luis García batting first instead. Manager Davey Martinez also has Juan Soto and Josh Bell swapping places in today's batting order.

All-Stars will be announced later today, so we’ll see soon who will be the Nationals’ representative in the Midsummer Classic.

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Corbin not consistent enough, rally falls short in another loss (updated)

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ATLANTA – There was reason for optimism heading into this Patrick Corbin start.

His overall numbers still weren’t great in the form of a 4-10 record and 5.68 ERA over his first 17 outings. But he had been really effective over his last two starts with a 1.20 ERA, 16 strikeouts and three walks over a combined 15 innings. He pitched eight innings of one-run ball and recorded a season-high 12 strikeouts on June 28 against the Pirates and then pitched another seven innings of one-run ball on Monday against the Marlins.

But the third time was not the charm for Corbin this afternoon at Truist Park, as he was charged with four runs over six innings in a 4-3 loss to the Braves before a crowd of 40,632 fans.

Like a lot of his outings, Corbin had his ups and downs throughout this start. He faced the minimum in four of his six innings, with 1-2-3 innings in the third and sixth, and double-play balls in the second and fifth. It was the first and fourth innings where he struggled.

In the bottom of the first, ​​Corbin almost worked around a Ronald Acuña Jr. leadoff single as he retired the next two batters. But Austin Riley hit a slider over the plate into the left-field seats for a two-run homer and an early 2-0 Braves lead.

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Sánchez strong in rehab start, but Nats waiting on rotation plans

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ATLANTA – The Nationals received an encouraging report on Aníbal Sánchez’s latest rehab start with Triple-A Rochester.

And with Monday’s off-day and the four-day All-Star break the following week, the Nats’ rotation could be in line to get some rest, a boost and a reset.

Sánchez completed 5 1/3 innings with four hits, two runs (one earned), three walks and three strikeouts in his fourth rehab start last night (third with Rochester). He threw 87 pitches, 54 for strikes, against the 23 batters he faced, a little more than the five innings and 75 pitches he was originally scheduled to throw.

“Yeah, he threw 5 1/3, 87 pitches. He threw the ball well,” Davey Martinez said during his pregame meeting with the media. “He had a couple of walks in there, but he felt good. So today he'll rest, he'll throw a bullpen, we'll see where he's at. And then we'll figure out what's next for him.”

Looking at the schedule, five days from yesterday would be Wednesday’s matinee finale against the Mariners. As the rotation currently stands, Josiah Gray would be in line to start Tuesday’s opener after Monday’s off-day, and Joan Adon’s spot would come up Wednesday.

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Game 87 lineups: Nats at Braves

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ATLANTA – It’s a new day and the Nationals will be looking to get past last night’s disaster, which saw them lose 10-2 in the series opener with a 75-minute rain delay and another position player pitching.

They’ll turn to Patrick Corbin to set the tone for them on the mound this afternoon. Although the overall numbers still aren’t great (4-10 record and 5.68 ERA in 17 starts), the veteran lefty has been very impressive over his last two starts, pitching to a 1.20 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks over a combined 15 innings. He did, however, give up six runs in just 2 ⅔ innings here at Truist Park in his second start of the season. Here’s hoping things have changed since the last time Corbin faced the Braves.

After mustering only Juan Soto’s two-run home run off Charlie Morton last night, the Nats offense hopes to be more productive against Kyle Wright, who has been one of the more consistent starters in the league. The 26-year-old right-hander is 9-4 with a 2.91 ERA over 16 starts this season, and he should be plenty fresh after only pitching four innings and throwing 71 pitches (both season lows) in his last start against the Cardinals. (Manager Brian Snitker removed him as a precaution after the Braves jumped out to a 6-0 lead.) 

Wright hasn’t faced the Nats since 2020, but is 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against Washington.

The weather here is once again not great for baseball. The light rain falling is supposed to clear around the scheduled 4:10 p.m. first pitch, but then it’s supposed to storm all night starting around 6-7 p.m.. They may be able to start this game. Whether or not they finish is a different story.

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Weems trying to prove worth in Nats bullpen

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ATLANTA – Part of the rebuilding process, especially if you want to make it a quick turnaround back to contention, is finding diamonds in the rough. Whether that’s in the draft, international market or free agency, adding productive pieces that may have been overlooked by other teams is a good way to put together a contender.

It’s still early with a small sample size, but Jordan Weems is hoping to be one of those diamonds in the rough for the Nationals.

You may look at his overall numbers and think there’s no way. A 29-year-old right-handed reliever who has been cast off by three other teams? Who was drafted in 2011 but didn’t make his major league debut until 2020 as a 27-year-old? Who has a 6.53 ERA in only 25 big league outings? Who had a 7.27 ERA and 1.731 WHIP in just 8 ⅔ innings over eight appearances coming into Friday’s series opener in Atlanta?

How is that a diamond in the rough?

Well, if you take a look at Weems’ more recent numbers, you'll find there are some positive developments that suggest he’s perhaps turning a corner. At the very least, he’s turning himself into a reliable arm out of Davey Martinez’s bullpen.

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Disastrous second inning dooms Fedde, Nats in loss (updated)

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ATLANTA – It’s been hit or miss for Erick Fedde this year. Really, it’s been hit or miss for Erick Fedde throughout his career. But he hasn’t been put under the microscope until these past two seasons as he has solidified himself in the Nationals rotation.

Sometimes he’s sharp and can use his arsenal effectively to turn in a quality (if not better) start, although he typically gets himself into high pitch counts.

Other times he’s flat and serves up easy pitches for the opponent to hit, which puts his team in a hole and also drives up his pitch count.

Tonight’s series opener against the Braves was the latter as a five-run second inning doomed Fedde and the Nats en route to a 12-2 loss in front of 41,725 fans at Truist Park.

Fedde put himself in a small deficit from the start. In the first inning, he served up a solo home run to Matt Olson on an inside and slightly elevated cutter. He needed 16 pitches to complete the first frame, a pretty standard start for the right-hander.

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García returns to lineup, Sánchez starts again in Rochester

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ATLANTA – Less than 24 hours after exiting Thursday’s series finale in Philadelphia, Luis García is back in the Nationals lineup for the series opener in Atlanta. A sigh of relief can be heard throughout the organization.

Ehire Adrianza replaced García at shortstop in the bottom of the seventh inning of the 5-3 loss to the Phillies after García grounded out to lead off the top of the sixth, clearly grimacing and holding his right side as he jogged back to the dugout. Manager Davey Martinez said after the game that the young shortstop was dealing with a "stomach issue.”

It must have been a quick bug, similar to what Nelson Cruz dealt with when Martinez scratched him from the lineup late Tuesday with an illness. García is feeling well enough to play tonight.

“He had an upset stomach yesterday,” Martinez said during his pregame session with the media. “He said he woke up, he felt a lot better. So I told him to make sure he drinks a lot of fluid. It's hot. So we'll keep an eye on him. He said he feels good.”

García felt something coming on before yesterday’s game, but told his manager he was good enough to play. He ended up getting worse as the game went on.

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Game 86 lineups: Nats at Braves

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ATLANTA – Greetings from just outside downtown Atlanta, where the Nationals are making their second visit to Truist Park this year.

I can confirm the Nats won’t have to face Kyle Schwarber over this three-game series, but alas, another National League East opponent awaits in the Braves. The Nats are a woeful 7-30 on the season within the division and have won just two out of their last 21 games against their rivals. Although the Nats have played the Braves the least so far, they’ve had the most success against Atlanta, winning a three-game set here in early April despite getting swept at home over three games last month. 

Erick Fedde will look to continue a strong stretch in which he’s pitched to a 2.82 ERA over his last four starts. That stretch started when he allowed three runs in 5 ⅓ innings against these Braves on June 15. The key for Fedde will be to, once again, get quick outs and not get himself into deep counts so as to keep his pitch count down and get deeper in the game.

Charlie Morton will take the mound for the Braves in tonight’s opener. The veteran right-hander is 4-3 with a 4.34 ERA over his first 16 starts, but like Fedde, he’s been pitching really well as of late. Over his last four starts, Morton has a 1.35 ERA with 35 strikeouts to just four walks. This will be his first time facing the Nats this season after having gone 4-6 with a 5.23 ERA over 13 career starts against Washington. 

Luis García is in tonight’s lineup after leaving yesterday’s game in Philadelphia with a stomach illness.

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Cavalli and Baker selected to All-Star Futures Game

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The All-Star Game’s week-long festivities are not just to celebrate the best in today’s game. They are also to put the best of baseball’s future on the national stage. And we now know who will be representing the Nationals on that stage in just over a week.

Cade Cavalli and Darren Baker have been selected to represent the Nationals in the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, Major League Baseball announced today on MLB Network’s “MLB Central.” The 23rd All-Star Futures Game features the top prospects across the minor leagues as they’ll compete as part of the first-ever All-Star Saturday on July 16.

Cavalli, 23, will be appearing in his second straight All-Star Futures Game after representing the Nats in Colorado last year. The 2020 first-round pick pitched a scoreless fifth inning for the National League side while matching his two walks with two strikeouts and touching 100 mph with his fastball three times.

Currently the Nats’ top prospect, according to both MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, Cavalli is tied for third in the system with 68 strikeouts after being one of the strikeout leaders in all the minor leagues in 2021. In 14 starts for Triple-A Rochester, he is 4-3 with a 4.54 ERA and 9.1 K/9. But Cavalli has upped his game recently, going 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA, 41 strikeouts and a .182 batting average against over his last seven starts. 

That includes last night, when the right-hander enjoyed one his most impressive outings to date, retiring the first 17 batters he faced en route to completing seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball at Lehigh Valley. He finished with seven strikeouts and no walks.

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Rutledge starting to shove at Fredericksburg

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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 MLBPipeline.com.

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.)

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Martinez named to NL All-Star coaching staff

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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.”

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Franco delivers heroics to put away Pirates (updated)

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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.

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

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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.

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Game 76 lineups: Nats vs. Pirates

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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. 

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Escobar understands new role in return from IL

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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.”

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