Kieboom enjoys much-needed bounceback showing at plate

Kieboom gray

MILWAUKEE – Carter Kieboom was probably still thinking about his final at-bat of the night, the one that led off the top of the ninth, the one that saw him get ahead in the count 3-0 and then take what he thought was ball four from Devin Williams, only for Brian O’Nora to call it a strike and ultimately lead to a strikeout that changed the tenor of that inning.

It made for a frustrating conclusion to Friday evening for Kieboom, who appeared to have some words for O’Nora as he walked back toward the Nationals dugout. It should not, however, completely detract from everything else he did during the course of the game, his best game at the plate in a while.

“He thought that one pitch was a ball,” manager Davey Martinez said following a frustrating, 5-3 loss to the Brewers. “I haven’t looked at it yet. But he swung the bat really well today.”

Final at-bat aside, Kieboom indeed swung the bat much better Friday than he had in recent weeks. He doubled home a run in the first inning. He drew a walk in the fourth. He singled in the sixth. All told, Kieboom reached base as many times as he had in his previous seven games, totaling 22 plate appearances.

It’s a far cry from Kieboom’s first week back in the majors, during which he homered three times in his first 23 plate appearances and seemed to be telling the Nats he deserved another crack at the starting third baseman’s job he had squandered several times in past years before missing 2022 following Tommy John surgery.

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Nats, Irvin jump out to early lead before faltering (updated)


MILWAUKEE – The way they jumped all over Wade Miley in the top of the first suggested this might be a good night for the Nationals’ recently slumping hitters.

And the way Jake Irvin kept posting zeros against the first-place Brewers suggested the rookie was headed for another fine night on the mound.

How, then, did all of that turn into a 5-3 loss at American Family Field?

It happened because the Nats lineup did virtually nothing at the plate after that impressive opening statement. And it happened because Irvin’s pitch count and inability to avoid giving Milwaukee free baserunners came back to haunt him during a killer sequence in the bottom of the fifth that flipped the entire game.

That four-run outburst by the Brewers did in Irvin, spoiling what was shaping up to be a big-time outing by the young right-hander. And because his teammates couldn’t do anything to support him or the relievers who followed to make up the slim deficit, the Nationals were left to suffer yet another loss during a September to forget.

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Rainey healthy but still fixing mechanics before returning to Nats

rainey pitches white

MILWAUKEE – Tanner Rainey’s surgically repaired elbow feels strong. He’s made 12 appearances over the last month on a minor league rehab assignment, including back-to-back scoreless innings for Triple-A Rochester in recent days. He’s now more than 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery.

So why haven’t the Nationals activated the reliever off the 60-day injured list and brought him back to the big leagues yet?

“I talked to Tanner, and he’s still working on some things, mechanically,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He’s still going to stay down there, still going to pitch, work on some things.”

When Rainey began his rehab assignment in early August, the thinking was that he’d rejoin the major league bullpen sometime in early-to-mid September. And since the right-hander has crossed just about every pertinent item off his rehab checklist, it would seem the time has come.

But while the results have looked good, Rainey still doesn’t feel like he’s all the way back from the ligament replacement surgery he had in August 2022. His elbow feels great, he insists. But his velocity hasn’t yet returned to the upper 90s he used to throw, and he’s had trouble repeating his mechanics from outing to outing.

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Game 148 lineups: Nats at Brewers

Keibert Ruiz swing blue away

MILWAUKEE – A four-game series against the Pirates seemed like it would be just what the Nationals needed. Alas, it wasn’t. After winning Monday’s opener at PNC Park, the Nats dropped three straight, including Thursday’s 2-0 shutout played in record time. So now they have to hope to get back on track against a far more difficult opponent in the National League Central-leading Brewers.

Milwaukee enters with the NL’s best pitching staff (3.82 ERA, 1.185 WHIP). Washington enters having averaged only 3.5 runs on 7.2 hits and 2.6 walks over its last 17 games, during which time the team, unsurprisingly, has gone 4-13.

Somehow, this lineup is going to have to figure out how to string together some quality plate appearances and drive in some runs. That group will do so tonight against veteran left-hander Wade Miley, who is doing the best work of his career deep into his 30s. Over the last three seasons, he’s 21-13 with a 3.32 ERA.

Jake Irvin has surprisingly blossomed into the Nationals’ most consistently effective starter, and he’ll need to keep that up tonight against the Brewers. Over his last 15 starts, the rookie right-hander has a 3.59 ERA. The problem: He hasn’t been rewarded for his efforts, with only a 2-2 record and 11 no-decisions during that lengthy span.

Where: American Family Field
Gametime: 8:10 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 9 mph in from right field

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Nationals announce multi-year extension with Rizzo (updated)

Mike Rizzo

It took a few more weeks than initially hoped, but the Nationals and Mike Rizzo have finally agreed to a new deal that will keep the longtime general manager in charge of baseball operations into the next stage of the franchise’s rebuild.

The Nats formally announced a multi-year extension with Rizzo this morning, three weeks after they announced a comparable contract with manager Davey Martinez.

Though Rizzo’s deal wasn’t done at the time, he and the club had been in negotiations and believed they were on track to finalizing terms, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Those negotiations wound up taking longer than anticipated, with Martinez's two-year contract finalized first, a rarity in the sport.

"I was always confident it was going to happen," Rizzo said in a video conference with reporters. "It was just something that we never got around to getting the final deal done. As far as the timeline goes, I thought it was important to get Davey done, because the chemistry in the clubhouse, and a lame-duck manager with three months, is not the way you want to go through this thing. ... That had to be done, and I'm glad I got that done, sooner rather than later. I was always confident about my deal."

Rizzo, 62, will be back in his familiar role in 2024, but several other prominent and longtime confidants of his will not. Johnny DiPuglia, who led the team’s international scouting operation since 2009, resigned earlier this month. Kris Kline, who has run the team’s amateur scouting operation since 2009, has been re-assigned to a role as a special assistant to Rizzo who will focus more on professional scouting, a source familiar with the decision confirmed.

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La Sorsa embracing nomadic life between MLB, Triple-A

Joe La Sorsa vs. LAD

Joe La Sorsa’s relief appearance Sunday wasn’t particularly memorable. It didn’t make a difference in the outcome of the game (a 7-3 loss by the Nationals against the Dodgers). It included no defining moment, no critical out recorded and no damaging hit surrendered.

But when it came time to dissect what happened on another long, rain-delayed day at the ballpark, Davey Martinez went out of his way to mention the rookie left-hander’s seemingly innocuous relief appearance.

“I give a lot of credit to Joe,” the Nationals manager said. “That was awesome. It saved our bullpen, big-time.”

Having used up pretty much every other reliever on his roster the previous two nights, Martinez’s options for Sunday’s game were thin. And when starter Trevor Williams lasted only 4 1/3 innings, the situation looked all the more dire.

Martinez went to Mason Thompson first, the right-hander facing two batters in the fifth before the game went into a 58-minute delay, then returning after that to finish the inning and return to face two batters to open the sixth. Next up was La Sorsa, who entered with a runner in scoring position but stranded him there with three quick outs.

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Another rain delay, another loss for Nats (updated)


They played a ballgame at Nationals Park this afternoon, the 143rd game of this 162-game season. For the third straight day, it included a rain delay. And for the second time this weekend, it included a loss to the Dodgers.

The finale of a long, drawn-out series ended with a dud, Trevor Williams digging the Nationals into yet another early hole en route to a 7-3 loss that never really felt within reach even though it technically was.

Those who were here for the entire weekend were treated to a grand total of 9 hours, 26 minutes of actual baseball, plus 6 hours, 42 minutes of delays. Outside of a few fun moments late Saturday night in the Nats’ 11-inning win, most of it was tough to experience in person.

The Dodgers, unsurprisingly, proved themselves to be the superior team, well on their way to a 10th division title in 11 years. The Nationals, after an uplifting stretch for much of July and August, have now lost 10 of 13 with three weeks to go in the season, two of them to be spent on the road, one of them to be spent back here.

"The long games, the extra innings ... this weekend was a grind," manager Davey Martinez said. "We didn't score many runs today, but I saw some really good things."

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Gray getting extra rest before next start, Abrams sits with sore knee

gray v MIA

The Nationals will give Josiah Gray three extra days of rest before he makes his next start, hoping the time off gives the struggling right-hander a chance to catch his breath and still finish a once-promising season strong.

Gray has totaled only six innings in his last two starts, allowing seven total runs while walking eight batters and throwing 149 pitches in the process. His next turn in the rotation would have come Monday in the Nats’ series opener at the Pirates, but he now will wait until Thursday’s finale at PNC Park to take the mound.

That start will be 11 days removed from his previous outing, so this will be the equivalent of having an entire turn skipped in the rotation.

“As we all know, he’s our All-Star,” manager Davey Martinez said. “And while he’s been struggling a little bit of late, I just want to give him a little break.”

Gray was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, back when he sported a 3.00 ERA through his first 13 starts of the season. But in 14 starts since, his ERA has been a hefty 5.30, and over 69 2/3 innings he has issued 38 walks while serving up 11 homers.

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Game 143 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

ruiz celebrates cherry

Hey, you know what would be great? If the Nationals and Dodgers could play a ballgame today that starts on time and isn’t interrupted by rain at any point. Wouldn’t that be just lovely?

It’s possible that wish will come true, if the storm that’s passing through town this morning clears out in time for a 1:35 p.m. first pitch. Keep your fingers crossed.

The Nationals have a shot at a series win after Saturday night’s bonkers, 11-inning victory via a walk-off wild pitch. The bullpen is not in great shape at this point, so there really is pressure on Trevor Williams to bounce back from a bad start last time out and give his team a chance. Considering the lineup he’s facing, that’s a tall task.

The Nats have been scoring some runs this weekend, so that’s a good thing. And they’ve hit for some power, which is also a good thing. We’ll see if they can keep that up this afternoon and emerge with what would have to be considered an impressive series win over one of the best teams in baseball.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Storms ending, 88 degrees, wind 7 mph out to left field

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Nats win wacky game over Dodgers in 11th on wild pitch (updated)

Chavis gray

For all the attention that’s been paid to MacKenzie Gore and Josiah Gray – and for all the attention that will be paid to Cade Cavalli once he returns from Tommy John surgery – the Nationals have another young starter who has made just as compelling a case to be part of this team’s long-term plan.

In some ways, Jake Irvin’s case is even stronger than his rotation mates, if for no other reason than the immutable fact he’s been the Nats’ most consistently effective starter for months.

The fourth-round pick from the 2018 draft may have the pedigree others do, and he may not have shown up on prospect rankings the way others did, but consider the body of work he’s amassed this year: Irvin has a lower ERA than Gore, a lower WHIP than Gray and has averaged more innings per start than either.

Irvin wasn't rewarded for his efforts tonight with an individual win, but at least his Nationals teammates somehow found a way to come away with a collective win, topping the Dodgers 7-6 in 11 wacky innings to cap a long day and night on South Capitol Street.

"That's all we're looking for: For the team to take steps forward," Irvin said. "Tonight was just a grind. The defense played absolutely outstanding. It was a lot of fun to watch."

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Gore's season likely over with 15-day IL stint for blister

MacKenzie Gore gray

MacKenzie Gore’s season has likely to come to an end three weeks early after the Nationals placed the left-hander on the 15-day injured list with a pair of blisters on his middle finger that has impacted at least two of his recent starts.

Gore was hampered by the ailment during Friday night’s 8-5 loss to the Dodgers, in which he gave up three homers and was pulled after 89 pitches in only four innings. It was the second time this summer he had a start cut short by a blister, and it’s something that has plagued him in the past as well.

“It’s kind of always been a thing,” he said after the game. “It’s no excuse, but it’s frustrating. It is a real thing.”

Though he wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility, manager Davey Martinez made it clear it’s highly unlikely Gore will return to pitch before season’s end. He won’t be eligible to come off the IL until Sept. 24, at which point there’s only one week of games left.

“We’ll keep an eye on him, but I’d hate to start him up again,” Martinez said. “We’re getting close to the innings. Honestly, we’re beyond the innings we thought we’d get (coming into the year). But right now, I’m not going to rule anything out. Give me a few days. I want to sit down and have a conversation with him. But I think he’ll be shut down.”

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Game 142 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

jake irvin home blue

After a long night that included a 3-hour, 8-minute game and a 1-hour, 34-minute rain delay, the Nationals and Dodgers are back at it this afternoon for the second game of their weekend series. The Nats have lost nine of their last 11 and sure could use a win.

They also sure could use a start longer than four, or ideally five, innings. They’ve put way too much strain on an already tired bullpen the last couple weeks, and Davey Martinez wound up using six relievers Friday night. So the pressure’s on Jake Irvin to do what he’s actually done with some regularity this season and provide length. Against a tough Dodgers lineup, that’s a stiff challenge.

Martinez does have another available reliever today in Joe La Sorsa, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester when the Nationals placed MacKenzie Gore on the 15-day injured list with blisters on his finger. Stay tuned for more on that story.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Chance of storms, 88 degrees, wind 7 mph out to left field

SS CJ Abrams
DH Lane Thomas
1B Dominic Smith
C Keibert Ruiz
RF Travis Blankenhorn
LF Jake Alu
3B Ildemaro Vargas
2B Luis García
CF Jacob Young

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Nats, Strasburg can't let retirement terms ruin relationship

Stephen Strasburg throw blue wide

The statement was released at 5:41 p.m. Friday, roughly 90 minutes before first pitch at Nationals Park, attributed to Mark Lerner and pertaining to one of the most important players in club history.

“Stephen Strasburg is and always will be an important part of the Washington Nationals franchise,” it read. “We support him in any decision he makes and will ensure that he receives what is due to him.

“It is regrettable that private discussions have been made public through anonymous sources attempting to negotiate through the media. While we have been following the process required by the collective bargaining agreement, behind-the-scenes preparations for a press conference had begun internally. However, no such event was ever confirmed by the team or promoted publicly. It is unfortunate that external leaks in the press have mischaracterized these events.”

A rare public pronouncement from the Nats’ managing principal owner, but an understandable one given the confusion over what was supposed to be a formal press conference to announce Strasburg’s retirement later today.

But then came the final two lines of the three-paragraph statement, which Lerner closed with an unexpected bang: “It is our hope that ongoing conversations remain private out of respect for the individuals involved. Until then, we look forward to seeing Stephen when we report to spring training.”

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Gore's short start puts added strain on bullpen in loss (updated)

MacKenzie Gore city connect

The Nationals’ September swoon has largely been tied to poor performances by their starting pitchers, and in particular by abbreviated outings by those starters.

Unable to consistently complete five or more innings, members of the Nats rotation have not only dug their team into early holes, they’ve put added strain on a bullpen that’s not built to withstand this much work.

So the last thing anyone wanted to see tonight in the opener of a weekend series against the Dodgers, the first of 17 consecutive scheduled games heading into the season’s final week, was another short outing by MacKenzie Gore. The left-hander lasted only four innings, and even though he technically kept his team in the game, the work that was then required of the bullpen was too much to overcome in what finished as an 8-5, rain-delayed loss to Los Angeles.

Not even the thunderstorm that popped up with two outs in the top of the seventh could salvage anything for the Nats. The rain didn't last long enough for officials to call the game at that point, so Davey Martinez had to ask Amos Willingham (his sixth reliever of the night) to pitch the final 2 1/3 innings following a 1-hour, 34-minute delay.

In the end, Martinez summoned all but two of his eight bullpen arms. Willingham was the only one who recorded three outs. Two were charged with two runs a piece: Robert Garcia and Jordan Weems, who combined to allow the decisive four runs in the top of the sixth of a game that saw Nationals pitchers issue nine total walks.

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Adams out for season with hamate fracture, García returns

Riley Adams catchers gear CC gray

Riley Adams wasn’t overly concerned in the moment when he fouled off a pitch Wednesday night and felt something wrong with his left wrist. That’s not uncommon. Then he tried to take a practice swing.

“I went to grab the bat again, and it certainly felt more painful than I’ve experienced before,” the Nationals catcher said. “That’s when I was thinking something was up.”

Sure enough, Adams learned Thursday he had fractured the hamate bone in his wrist, an injury that will require surgery Monday and will end his season 3 1/2 weeks before he wanted. The Nats placed him on the 10-day injured list today and recalled second baseman Luis García from Triple-A Rochester to take his roster spot.

It’s a tough, and abrupt, end to a promising season for Adams. The 27-year-old finished with 159 plate appearances over 48 games as Keibert Ruiz’s backup behind the plate, hitting .273 with 13 doubles, two triples, four homers, 21 RBIs and an .807 OPS.

Hamate fractures, while frustrating, typically heal in six to eight weeks. That affords Adams plenty of time to recover and begin his offseason training program with no ill effects, though hitters have been known to need more time to see their power return once back playing on a daily basis.

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Game 141 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

Luis Garcia Blue Jersey

It was an eventful off-day for the Nationals, who have made a roster move heading into tonight’s series opener against the Dodgers. Riley Adams unfortunately did break the hamate bone in his left wrist on Wednesday night, so he’s on the 10-day injured list and out for the rest of the season. Taking his place on the roster is Luis García, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester and will get another shot to prove he has made adjustments since his demotion last month.

García is right back in the lineup, batting eighth and starting at second base. Keibert Ruiz is catching, but I would imagine we’re going to see more of Drew Millas down the stretch now that Adams is out. Lane Thomas also is out for the third straight game, his back still not fully healed. Thomas said the other day he expected to return “Friday or Saturday,” so he still has a chance to make good on that.

MacKenzie Gore, meanwhile, returns after going on bereavement leave and will be making his first start in 10 days. The left-hander looked like he needed a breather after that last outing in Toronto, so we’ll see if the extra rest did him any good. It’s not an easy challenge for him, facing a tough Dodgers lineup tonight.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Chance of storms, 87 degrees, wind 8 mph out to left field

SS CJ Abrams
DH Joey Meneses
1B Dominic Smith
C Keibert Ruiz
RF Travis Blankenhorn
LF Jake Alu
3B Carter Kieboom
2B Luis García
CF Jacob Young

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Friday morning Nats Q&A

Davey Martinez

After their most grueling stretch of the season, the Nationals suddenly have had two days off this week. It made for a nice respite at a time when most everyone needed it. But now they begin another tough stretch tonight, with 17 consecutive game days on the schedule until they get another break heading into the final week of the season.

So much has happened since the All-Star break, much of it positive, some of it negative. There are matters to discuss on the field, as well as off the field right now.

Let's take this opportunity to address all of it. Submit your questions in the comments section below, then check back throughout the morning for my responses ...

Abrams joins 40-steal club, Adams getting MRI on hand

CJ Abrams

He had already reached base earlier in the game and immediately swiped second. So when CJ Abrams singled home the tying run in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday night, was there ever any question what he would do next?

“I get on base, and I’m trying to take that extra 90 every time I can,” the Nationals shortstop said. “Get in scoring position for my teammates, help the team win.”

Abrams’ baserunning wasn’t really the difference in the Nats’ 3-2 win over the Mets. His RBI single in the seventh was. As was Jacob Young’s walk-off single in the ninth, with Abrams watching from the on-deck circle and ready to take a crack at it himself if his rookie teammate hadn’t delivered.

But it was a milestone night for Abrams on the bases nonetheless, because he reached the 40-steal mark for the first time in his career and joined an exclusive list of Nationals who have ever done that.

Only Trea Turner (who stole 46 bases in 2017, then 43 in 2018) and Alfonso Soriano (41 in 2006) have stolen more bases in a single season for the Nats than Abrams, who still has 22 more games to go and a real shot at establishing a new club record.

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Young caps Nats' rally with first walk-off hit of career (updated)


The Nationals’ six-week surge this summer was keyed in large part by their ability to win the late innings of games, both at the plate and on the mound. Their more recent six-game slide has seen them lose games late on multiple occasions, reversing the trend.

So wouldn’t you know they finally snapped the losing streak by storming back to beat the Mets in walk-off fashion?

The fact one of their recent young call-ups delivered it only made this 3-2 win sweeter: Jacob Young’s chopper up the middle past a drawn-in infield scored Carter Kieboom from third and gave the Nats an opportunity to celebrate for the first time in a week.

"Right when I hit it, I kind of saw where I hit it, and it was a good spot," said the 24-year-old outfielder who opened the season at Single-A Wilmington and was promoted three times to reach the majors two weeks ago. "It felt great to look at the dugout, and everyone was already coming out. It's a great feeling to have all your boys running out at you."

On a record-setting September evening in the District – first-pitch temperature was 97 degrees, hottest for a game at Nationals Park since July 2012 – the Nats dug themselves into an early hole and went silent at the plate for six innings before finally waking up late.

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Thomas expects to play this weekend after getting back injection

Lane Thomas swing white

Lane Thomas is out of the Nationals lineup for the second straight night after receiving an injection in his back, but the outfielder expects to be back playing this weekend.

Thomas was encouraged by results of the MRI he received Tuesday, saying it did not show any injury of significance.

“Just a little inflammation in a few areas,” he said. “Got an injection. You just can’t do anything for 48 hours after that, so I should be good for Friday or maybe Saturday.”

Thomas admitted his back had been a minor issue for a while, but it flared up on him while making a throw one week ago in Toronto. He was held out of the lineup the following night but returned to play the rest of the weekend against the Marlins and wound up homering three straight days.

When the back was still bothering him after all that, Thomas was sent for Tuesday’s MRI and missed the Nationals’ series opener against the Mets.

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