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Is Rendon building a legitimate MVP case?

Davey Martinez first mentioned it last weekend in Chicago, and only when straight-up asked by a reporter if he wanted to make a case for Anthony Rendon as National League MVP. “I’ll make a case for him right now, yeah,” the Nationals manager said. “MVP. Gold Glove. My man, Anthony!” Everyone laughed. Then Martinez brought it up again late Friday night, unprompted this time after

After Hudson blows lead, Rendon saves the day (updated)

They danced with the devil all night, failing to capitalize against the National League’s worst team despite countless opportunities. They were sloppy in the field. They got only five innings out of their starter, then watched their bullpen blow a late lead. Even when they retook the lead late, they still couldn’t hold onto it. Until their best player - perhaps even a legitimate NL

Bullpen gets two key arms back, drops Grace from roster

The Nationals made more changes to their ever-changing bullpen today, and there’s still one more big change to come in a few days that could finally solidify that group for the season’s final month. The Nats activated Roenis Elías off the injured list and Hunter Strickland off the paternity leave list this afternoon, bringing all three relievers acquired on July 31 together again after a

Game 133 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

Slowly but surely, the Nationals are getting their bullpen back. That is, the bullpen they acquired on July 31 but only had together for one game. Roenis Elías, who made just the one appearance before straining his hamstring, has been activated off the injured list and is available to pitch in tonight’s series opener against the Marlins. And Hunter Strickland, who has been around for

Thursday morning Nats Q&A

It’s been an eventful week for the Nationals. Actually, it’s been an eventful month for the Nationals. Actually, it’s been an eventful season for the Nationals. And we’ve almost reached the home stretch. Sunday is Sept. 1. The National League wild card game is Oct. 1. (But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.) There’s still plenty of work to be done. The Nats

Lineup returns to form, Scherzer builds up arm in win (updated)

If you were wondering how long it would take the Nationals to brush aside Tuesday night’s surprising shutout loss to the Orioles and get themselves back on track, the answer was: six batters into the bottom of the first inning tonight. That’s all it took - six batters - for the Nationals to recapture the form they lost 24 hours earlier and storm out to

Doolittle and Elías on verge of return after simulated game

Sean Doolittle and Roenis Elías each threw an inning in a simulated game this afternoon, potentially the final step for each reliever before returning to the Nationals’ active roster this weekend. Doolittle, on the 10-day injured list since Aug. 18 with right knee tendinitis, and Elias, on the 10-day IL since Aug. 4 with a right hamstring strain, each faced live hitters today for the

Game 132 lineups: Nats vs. Orioles

You wouldn’t have expected the Nationals to find themselves in this position, but here they are, needing to win tonight to salvage a four-game season split with the Orioles in their annual interleague rivalry. For a team that’s been red-hot against so many other opponents, the Nats haven’t been able to take care of business against Baltimore the way you would have thought they would.

Why a division title should still be the Nationals’ goal

The most telling quote to come out of the Nationals’ clubhouse after Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss from the Orioles wasn’t about the surprising lack of offense from a lineup that had been unstoppable all last week. It wasn’t about Patrick Corbin’s rough first inning but strong bounce back after that. It wasn’t about the squandered eighth inning rally. And it certainly wasn’t the same line

Red-hot Nationals shut out by Orioles in 2-0 loss (updated)

For nine innings the crowd at Nationals Park waited anxiously for the rally that was sure to come at some point. This was the Nationals lineup, after all, and this was the Orioles pitching staff, after all. It was going to happen at some point, right? The seventh inning? The eighth inning? How about the ninth inning? Nope. Nope. And nope. The Nationals, both the

Elías, Zimmerman close to wrapping up rehab stints

Sean Doolittle’s pending return to the Nationals bullpen is significant, no doubt. But the other left-hander on the verge of rejoining that unit could prove to be quite significant himself. Roenis Elías, who faced only two batters after his July 31 acquisition from the Mariners before straining his right hamstring running the bases, appears to be entering the final days of his rehab and could

Game 131 lineups: Nats vs. Orioles

This year’s Battle of the Beltways doesn’t have the same juice as some previous versions did. Some of that is due to the two participants’ very different records. Some of that is due to the odd scheduling, with two weeknight games in each city, one month apart from each other. Whatever the case, the Nationals and Orioles renew acquaintances tonight. And from the Nats’ perspective,

With tough September looming, Nats need to finish August strong

The Nationals’ weekend series in Chicago was big. Big because of the opponent. Big because of the result. Big because of the impact on the standings (at least, the National League wild card race). And there are plenty more big series still to come before this season is complete. But not this week. Seven of the Nationals’ 10 remaining regular season series come against fellow

Rendon named NL Player of the Week

Anthony Rendon has been named National League Player of the Week, honored for his impressive performance during the Nationals’ 6-1 road trip. Rendon hit .483 (14-for-29) with three doubles, two homers, seven RBIs, five walks, one stolen base and six runs. He capped off the week with a dominant showing in Sunday’s 11-inning win over the Cubs, going 4-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs and

Talented and resilient Nats have earned respect of sport

CHICAGO - If you’re among those who remain skeptical about the 2019 Nationals, if you believe this bullpen is going to ruin the season, if you believe the manager still isn’t making the right moves to win ballgames, perhaps it’s time to listen to what others are now saying about this team. Others, as in the team that just got swept this weekend by these

Nats can’t close out Cubs in nine, but still sweep in 11 (updated)

CHICAGO - The first two games of a highly anticipated weekend series were lopsided affairs, the Nationals clearly outshining the Cubs on their home turf. Today’s finale? This was the ballgame everyone anticipated all along: a taut, well-played, evenly matched showdown between two National League postseason contenders. And when it finally ended some 4 1/2 hours later and 40,518 filed out into the streets of

Cabrera debuts at first base, Robles set HBP record (Nats win 7-5)

CHICAGO - The Nationals are playing their fourth straight game against a left-handed starter, an extremely rare occurrence during the course of a season. Howie Kendrick, who has battled hamstring issues all year, already started the first three games, including the day game in Chicago following a night game in Pittsburgh. So Davey Martinez faced a dilemma when filling out his lineup card for the

Game 130 lineups: Nats at Cubs

CHICAGO - The Cubs have been lights-out at home this season. They entered the weekend a staggering 14-1-4 in home series, the lone loss coming in late May when they dropped two of three to the Reds. And then the Nationals came to town and blew that narrative out of the water. With back-to-back lopsided wins the last two days, the Nats already have won

How Turner has reached base in 31 straight games

CHICAGO - Trea Turner legged out an infield single to open Saturday’s game at Wrigley Field. In doing so, he extended his career-high streak of games reaching base to 31. And then he went and reached base three more times, scored two runs and stole a base a help lead the Nationals to a 7-2 win over the Cubs. “It’s just fun scoring runs,” he

Nationals find new formula to beat Cubs again

CHICAGO - The combination of an explosive lineup and consistently dominant starting pitching has allowed the Nationals to weather the first week of Sean Doolittle’s stint on the injured list without having to put too much weight on the shoulders of their reconfigured bullpen. Because he’s been getting seven (or more) innings out of his starters, and because his lineup has been averaging 10 runs

Elías moving closer to return after bullpen session (Nats up 5-2)

CHICAGO - The left-hander the Nationals went out of their way to acquire at the trade deadline is getting closer to rejoining the active roster. Roenis Elías, who strained his hamstring in his team debut, threw off the bullpen mound at Wrigley Field this morning. If the session went well, he should be able to ramp up his rehab and potentially come off the injured

Game 129 lineups: Nats at Cubs

CHICAGO - It’s another beautiful day at Wrigley Field, where the Nationals look not only to beat the Cubs again but continue a pretty remarkable run over a longer stretch of time. They’ve now played .667 ball (52-26) since May 24. Thanks to the Dodgers’ loss last night, that’s now the best record in baseball during that prolonged stretch. And they’ve won 13 of their

An eventful day in left-center for Soto

CHICAGO - The way the Nationals are hitting as a whole right now, sometimes it feels like Juan Soto gets overlooked. It’s hard to give everyone proper due when so many are contributing at the plate, especially a prominent free-agent-to-be like Anthony Rendon. Make no mistake, though: Soto has played a significant role in the Nationals’ offensive onslaught of the last week and a half.

Well-rested Sánchez leads weary Nats to another win (updated)

CHICAGO - They played (in the rain) in Pittsburgh last night, then flew to Chicago and put their heads on their hotel pillows around 3 a.m. Eastern time. Seven hours later, they began filing into Wrigley Field for the opener of a weekend series against one of the best home teams in the majors. The Nationals had every right to complain about the disadvantageous scheduling.

Scherzer good for next start, but knows he can’t push it (Nats up 7-0)

CHICAGO - Max Scherzer completed his typical day-after-start routine at Wrigley Field with no setbacks, so he’s good to make his next scheduled start as planned. But the Nationals ace reiterated that he’s not all the way to his pre-injury form and that he’ll likely need to approach the rest of his season with far more caution than he has in the past. “I’m not

Game 128 lineups: Nats at Cubs

CHICAGO - The Nationals won’t face a tougher turnaround this season than last night’s game in Pittsburgh to this afternoon’s game at Wrigley Field. We’ll see how they look when they take the field in a few hours, but for what it’s worth the entire lineup (sans pitcher) is the same as it was last night. Including Kurt Suzuki, who caught Max Scherzer last night

Friday morning news and notes

PITTSBURGH - Some news and notes for your reading pleasure while I race to Chicago in time for this afternoon’s series opener at Wrigley Field ... * If there was nothing else to take away from Max Scherzer’s start Thursday night, it was this simple-but-important message both the right-hander and his manager stressed: They are going to continue to be cautious. That applied to Thursday’s

Scherzer returns, rest of Nationals finish off blowout win

PITTSBURGH - Max Scherzer started for the first time in four weeks, the second time in seven weeks, and that’s the most important thing that happened from the Nationals’ perspective tonight at PNC Park. “It was awesome,” manager Davey Martinez said. “Just seeing him run out there and take the ball was great.” So was seeing Scherzer depart the game feeling physically well. “Right now,

Ross throws off mound, Elías still two days away (Nats up 2-1)

PITTSBURGH - Though the Nationals haven’t made any formal announcements yet, it appears Joe Ross is good to start Saturday afternoon in Chicago, his lower right leg having healed enough from the comebacker that struck him during Monday’s game against the Pirates. Ross threw a full bullpen session late this afternoon and did not appear to be limited or hindered in any significant way. Davey

Game 127 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - OK, here’s the deal: The Nationals are scheduled to start their series finale against the Pirates at 7:05 p.m. They are then scheduled to fly to Chicago, where they are scheduled to start their series opener against the Cubs at 2:20 p.m. EDT Friday. That’s a tough turnaround, a really tough turnaround. And it’s even tougher when there’s rain in the forecast all

Cabrera has become indispensable to Nats in short order

PITTSBURGH - When Asdrúbal Cabrera became available earlier this month, the Nationals figured there was no downside to signing the veteran infielder. The Rangers, who released Cabrera on Aug. 3, were responsible for the vast majority of his $3.5 million salary. Any subsequent team that signed the 33-year-old would be responsible only for a prorated portion of the major league minimum salary. In this case,

Corbin continues dominant run in 11-1 win (updated)

PITTSBURGH - Sure, all this offense over the last week has been nice eye candy for the Nationals and their fans. Who doesn’t like to see a ballclub score lots of runs in bunches? Let’s not forget the real backbone of this Nationals roster, though. As always, it’s built on the broad shoulders of a starting rotation that has been the one constant all season

Strickland on broken nose: “It could’ve been a lot worse” (Nats up 6-0)

PITTSBURGH - Hunter Strickland can laugh about it now, but in those first few moments after the barbell fell from the rack and struck him on the face Tuesday afternoon, the Nationals reliever didn’t know what to think. “I had no idea. I didn’t know what happened,” he said. “Obviously, it hit me pretty good, so it kind of dazed me for a second there.

Game 126 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals scored 13 runs in Monday night’s series opener. Then they scored one run last night. So what does tonight hold in store? The Nationals will try to get their offensive mojo back against Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove. Musgrove hasn’t faced the Nats this year. He’s had an up and down season, but in his most recent start he held the Cubs

Breaking down the key decisions in Tuesday’s loss

PITTSBURGH - It all happened so fast. The Nationals held a 1-0 lead when the seventh inning ended Tuesday night. Stephen Strasburg was in complete control. And then the Nationals were down 4-1 to the Pirates after Wander Suero and Daniel Hudson made a mess of the eighth inning. It’s hardly the first time this has happened to the Nationals this season. But it was

Strasburg cruises, bullpen blows up in 4-1 loss (updated)

PITTSBURGH - Stephen Strasburg didn’t necessarily dominate the Pirates tonight. He simply cruised along, allowing a few baserunners here and there but never allowing them to seriously threaten to score against him. And when he departed the mound after seven innings of 94-pitch ball, the Nationals right-hander seemingly had another frame in him. But when Strasburg reached the dugout, he was greeted with handshakes from

Strickland breaks nose weightlifting but OK to pitch (Nats up 1-0)

PITTSBURGH - Hunter Strickland said he broke his nose in a weightlifting accident this afternoon, but the Nationals reliever has been cleared to pitch tonight and he’ll be available out of the bullpen if needed. Strickland was working out in the weight room at PNC Park when he was struck in the face by a barbell, according to manager Davey Martinez. Strickland walked through the

If leg heals quickly, Ross will remain in Nationals rotation

PITTSBURGH - Joe Ross will remain in the Nationals rotation. If his right leg heals in time after he was struck by a comebacker during Monday night’s win over the Pirates. Ross was still walking with a slight limp and had his lower right leg wrapped this afternoon, still feeling the effects of the 110-mph comebacker that caught him square on the shin the bottom

Game 125 lineups: Nats at Pirates

PITTSBURGH - You know all about what the Nationals have accomplished at the plate in recent days. What might they be able to accomplish tonight if they keep the barrage going? Well, they’ve already tied the major league record by scoring 13 or more runs in three straight games. If they can somehow do it again tonight, they’ll become the first team in Major League

Now on IL, Doolittle knows he must “hit pause and reset”

PITTSBURGH - Sean Doolittle knew his mechanics were out of whack, knew he wasn’t getting life and spin on his fastball the way he always had, knew his arm and body were fatigued. He also believed he could battle his way through it and still pitch effectively for a Nationals team that seemed to need him for the ninth inning way more nights of the

Nats set offensive records galore in rout of Pirates (updated)

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals are built to win on the broad shoulders of their dominant rotation. Have been for years. That does not mean this team is incapable of winning on the might of a deep and potent lineup, however, one capable on any given night of blasting an opposing pitching staff out of the park. Or, in this case, into the Allegheny River. It

Zimmerman rehab shifts to Potomac (Nats up 11-0)

PITTSBURGH - Ryan Zimmerman has gone on two-game rehab assignments before. This current one won’t be nearly so quick. After playing in a pair of games over the weekend for Double-A Harrisburg, Zimmerman is now shifting to Single-A Potomac to continue his rehab from a recurrence of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. And he may be there for a while. Manager Davey Martinez said

Scherzer set to return to rotation Thursday

PITTSBURGH - Max Scherzer bounded through the visitors’ clubhouse at PNC Park shortly after 3:30 p.m. today, a smile on his face and a bounce in his step not often seen over the last month. And as he walked past reporters he offered up three unsolicited words that revealed more about his current state of body and mind than any lengthy interview could have topped:

Game 124 lineups: Nats at Pirates (Dozier on paternity leave)

PITTSBURGH - It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood here alongside the Allegheny River, where the Nationals tonight open a four-game series against the floundering Pirates. They’ve done a very good job this summer of beating up on bad teams. Here’s a golden opportunity to feast some more on a Pirates club that is a staggering 7-27 since the All-Star break, worst in the majors.

Nationals release 2020 spring training schedule

The calendar hasn’t even flipped to September, but Major League Baseball is already thinking ahead to spring training 2020. The Nationals’ Grapefruit League schedule was released this afternoon, and includes 31 dates - 15 home games at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla., and 16 road games. Of course, since the Astros and Nationals share the same home field

Looking at Nationals’ options in the ninth inning

It’s hard to believe Nationals manager Davey Martinez isn’t aware of the angst and frustration three simple words - “He’s our closer” - cause for a fan base tired of watching ninth-inning leads frittered away. For the three weeks Sean Doolittle has been struggling to lock down games, Martinez has dug his heels in and drawn a line in the sand, holding firm that the

Nats respond to defeat with barrage of longballs in 16-8 victory

It was as fair question to ask: After Saturday night’s - er, early Sunday morning’s - demoralizing 15-14 loss to the Brewers in 14 innings, how would the Nationals respond? Apparently soul-crushing defeats and lack of restorative sleep result in prodigious displays of home run power. The Nationals took full advantage of their home park’s launching pad characteristics in warm, humid weather, muscling up to

Feeling fine, Scherzer preparing to pitch Thursday (Nats win 16-8)

Max Scherzer has long posited that the day after an activity - be it long toss, simulated game or bullpen session - is the most important component to the evaluation of an injury. So after throwing a 65-pitch simulated game Saturday, how the right-hander felt this morning would go a long way toward determining if he’ll ramp up his normal schedule toward a Thursday start

Knee issue lands struggling Doolittle on injured list

The Nationals won’t be answering incessant questions about closer Sean Doolittle’s recent ineffectiveness - well, for at least another 10 days or so. Doolittle was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday morning with right knee tendinitis, hours after coughing up four runs in one-third of an inning and failing to protect an 11-8 lead in the ninth inning. The Nationals went on to lose

Game 123 lineups: Nats vs. Brewers

The Nationals close out a weekend series with the Brewers this afternoon, hoping resurgent right-hander Erick Fedde can deliver another strong outing and a series victory over the Brewers. Fedde’s start - and his ability to give the Nats some length - takes on additional importance after Saturday night’s 15-14 loss to the Brewers in 14 innings. The bullpen had to cover 10 innings after

Doolittle, Martinez will reconsider closer’s workload

Sean Doolittle insisted before Saturday night’s game, he was good to pitch. As soon as he actually tried to pitch in the top of the ninth, he realized he didn’t have what he needed to be effective. “Tonight, man, I just didn’t have anything,” the Nationals closer said. “So, yeah, we’re going to have to figure something out. I’m going to have to figure something

Wildest game of year ends with loss in 14th (updated)

Who knows how this wild 2019 season will end for the Nationals, whether they’ll catch the Braves and win the National League East, whether they’ll hold onto one of the league’s two wild card berths or whether they’ll collapse and miss the playoffs altogether. Here’s what we can say unequivocally about the 2019 Nationals: They do not quit. No game is ever out of reach.

Decision looming for final spot in rotation (Nats trail 6-5)

Rotation depth, such a problem area for the Nationals last season and early this season, hasn’t been an issue over the last month. That’s thanks to the lights-out performances of Erick Fedde and Joe Ross, who have allowed the Nats to continue to thrive even while Max Scherzer has been on the injured list. Now, though, the organization faces a surprisingly tricky decision with Scherzer

Scherzer on track to return Thursday after simulated game

Max Scherzer built his arm up this afternoon in his second simulated game of the week, throwing 64 pitches over four innings. And as long as he recovers well from this latest throwing session, the Nationals ace will be lined up to return to the rotation next week in Pittsburgh. Scherzer looked strong and felt strong during today’s four-inning simulated game against teammates, according to

Game 122 lineups: Nats vs. Brewers

It’s Season Plan Holder Appreciation Day here at Nationals Park. It’s also Max Scherzer Simulated Game No. 2 Day. These two events are going on simultaneously, which is both cool (the fans are able to watch this) and awkward (Dan Kolko, Bo Porter and Alex Chappell are holding a Q&A as Scherzer pitches directly behind them). Anyways, tonight’s game ... the Nationals are riding a

Rendon’s clutch doubles enough to lift Nats to win (updated)

The Nationals totaled only three hits tonight. Turns out that was enough, because two of them were Anthony Rendon RBI doubles. The man who has made a name for himself with clutch two-baggers delivered the pair of clutch doubles his team needed tonight. The Nationals rode those RBI doubles, including the go-ahead hit in the bottom of the eighth, to a 2-1 victory over the

Scherzer will pitch another simulated game Saturday

Max Scherzer will take the mound at Nationals Park on Saturday. But he’ll again be facing teammates, not the Brewers. Despite the ace’s insistence he’s ready to come off the injured list, the Nationals have decided he needs at least one more simulated game to build up his endurance. Scherzer threw only 32 pitches over two simulated innings, plus warm-up tosses in the bullpen and

Game 121 lineups: Nats vs. Brewers

The Nationals have announced starters for this weekend. Aníbal Sánchez will start Saturday night, with Erick Fedde taking the mound Sunday afternoon. Obviously, neither of those guys is named Max Scherzer, so it appears the ace’s return from the injured list isn’t happening quite yet. But before you panic, he’s out throwing in the outfield right now, so it doesn’t appear he’s had any setback.

Decision day for Nationals and Scherzer

It’s decision day for the Nationals, who must figure out when and where Max Scherzer will next pitch. If it’s up to Scherzer, the answer to the first question is “Saturday” and the answer to the second question is “at Nationals Park against the Brewers.” But it’s not up to the ace of the staff. Davey Martinez, Mike Rizzo and the club’s medical staff will

It’s time to enjoy the 2019 Nationals, not complain about them

They’ve won seven of their last nine, but fans are fuming over the two games they lost in New York last weekend. They’ve seen Erick Fedde and Joe Ross go a combined 5-0 with an 0.90 ERA this month, but fans are convinced Max Scherzer will reinjure his back as soon as he returns to the mound in the coming days. They’ve seen the three

Mid-game offensive explosion lifts Nats to series sweep (updated)

It’s been a consistent pattern all summer long. The Nationals face an opposing pitcher they’ve rarely - if ever - faced before, need several innings to feel the guy out and then suddenly string together a bunch of hits to knock the previously effective starter out of the game. They’ve done it to several opponents, some rookies, some veterans who they haven’t seen much before

Scherzer: “I think I’m ready to pitch in the big leagues”

Max Scherzer insists he’s ready to pitch. Now. In the big leagues. As soon as the Nationals will let him. Which is the real issue, to be honest. Scherzer may believe he’s ready to return from the injured list this weekend, but he may be at the mercy of the Nationals’ medical and coaching staffs. “It’ll come down to me and the medical staff, yeah,”

Game 120 lineups: Nats vs. Reds

In turning their season around, the Nationals have rebounded from a low point of 12 games under .500 to a high point of nine games over .500. They’ve had several chances to climb to 10 games over but to date haven’t been able to reach that level. They’ll get another chance today as they attempt to sweep the Reds. Stephen Strasburg takes the ball, looking

Hudson delivers four outs for first save with Nationals

When Daniel Hudson trotted in from the bullpen with two outs in the eighth Tuesday night, many among the crowd of 30,130 at Nationals Park may have been wondering whether Davey Martinez intended to ask his recently acquired reliever to give him a four-out save, or whether Martinez simply wanted him to get out of the inning before handing the ball to someone else for

Ross dominates again, bullpen pieces together the rest (updated)

The longest scoreless innings streak from a member of the Nationals pitching staff this season doesn’t belong to Max Scherzer. It doesn’t belong to Stephen Strasburg. It doesn’t belong to Patrick Corbin. And it doesn’t belong to Sean Doolittle. It belongs to Joe Ross. And if that fact doesn’t surprise you, you haven’t been paying close attention to the 2019 season. Given up for dead

After sim game, Nats must decide if Scherzer is ready to return

Max Scherzer emerged from a simulated game at Nationals Park this afternoon feeling “really good,” perhaps good enough to convince club officials to let the ace return from the injured list without facing live hitters again. That determination won’t be made for a few more days, not until Scherzer has a chance to see how his upper back recovers from today’s two-inning-plus session and he

Game 119 lineups: Nats vs. Reds

The forecast tonight isn’t great, but for now, the Nationals and Reds are intending to play the second game of their series. Given the fact this is Cincinnati’s only trip here this year, and tomorrow’s finale is scheduled for 4:05 p.m., there’s certainly motivation to get this one in tonight as scheduled. The Nationals have several players back in the lineup, headlined by Juan Soto.

As Doolittle deals with summer grind, Nats bringing back Holland

Sean Doolittle admitted it. After pitching for the 52nd time in 118 games - a rate that leaves him on pace to establish a new career high with 71 appearances by season’s end - and in five of the Nationals’ last seven games, the club’s closer admitted his gas tank is running low. “I mean, that’s 5-of-7, in the middle of August, in the first

Fedde sharp again, bullpen hangs on for 7-6 win (updated)

This was supposed to be the weak link of the Nationals organization: pitching depth. And when Max Scherzer went back on the injured list three weeks ago, there was ample reason to fear the worst out of the two guys who had now been thrust into the back end of the rotation: Erick Fedde and Joe Ross. Except those guys haven’t been the problem, not

Updates on Soto, Scherzer, Elías and more (Nats up 6-2)

Juan Soto’s not in the lineup but feeling much better about his right ankle than he did 24 hours earlier. Howie Kendrick’s not in the lineup but back on the active roster and available to pinch-hit tonight. Max Scherzer is ready to face live hitters for the first time in three weeks. Ryan Zimmerman and Roenis Elías are making progress but still have major hurdles

Game 118 lineups: Nats vs. Reds (Kendrick activated)

The Nationals are back home after a long and eventful road trip that started in Arizona with three new relievers, continued in San Francisco with a sweep and then concluded with a wild weekend in New York. Now they are right back at it with a week of home games against the Reds and Brewers. And they’ve got a familiar face back on their active

Nats to open 2020 at Mets, will face entire AL West

The Nationals just completed a high-intensity series at Citi Field, and now they already have to start looking ahead to their next trip to Queens - in March. Major League Baseball unveiled its 2020 schedule this afternoon, never mind the fact there are still seven weeks remaining in the highly compelling 2019 season, and it features the earliest opening day in history: March 26. All

The good and the bad from a wild weekend in New York

After a wild weekend in New York, here’s what we know about the Nationals ... * They continue to have an issue closing out winnable games late. * They continue to put themselves in position to close out winnable games late. Yes, those back-to-back losses to the Mets on Friday and Saturday nights were gut-punches, from Sean Doolittle’s bottom-of-the-ninth meltdown in the opener to Fernando

Weekend series with Mets suddenly carries more weight

We’ve spent most of the summer emphasizing the Nationals’ matchups with the team they’re chasing in the National League East (the Braves) and the team that’s been right alongside them in the wild card race (the Phillies). The Mets? There hasn’t been much reason to talk about them, at least not since April and early May, when they still harbored visions of being part of

With deeper bullpen, Nats finally confident closing out games

SAN FRANCISCO - As the bottom of the ninth played out Wednesday afternoon at Oracle Park, the Giants getting an RBI double from Brandon Crawford and suddenly threatening to make things interesting, Davey Martinez might have been tempted to send Sean Doolittle or Fernando Rodney down to the bullpen to start warming up. Only a week or two ago, that’s probably what would’ve happened. If

Ross steps up again to pitch Nats to series sweep (updated)

SAN FRANCISCO - They arrived in the cool Bay Area late Sunday night having just gotten smoked in the Arizona desert, losers of three straight series for the first time in three months. The Nationals needed a bounceback week against a Giants club trying to mount a surprising run at a wild card berth. That’s exactly what they got. With a pair of shutout wins

Minor league pitcher Fuentes suspended 50 games (Nats up 4-0)

SAN FRANCISCO - Double-A Harrisburg pitcher Steven Fuentes has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a stimulant in violation of the minor league drug prevention and treatment program. Fuentes, rated the organization’s 21st best prospect by MLB Pipeline, tested positive for the stimulant Heptaminol, Major League Baseball announced this afternoon. The 22-year-old right-hander was signed by the Nationals out of Panama in 2013

With Scherzer still out, Nats adjust rotation for Mets

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals wanted to have Max Scherzer face the Braves twice in recent weeks but were unable to send their ace to the mound against the National League East leaders. They wanted to have Scherzer start at least one game during this West Coast trip against either the Diamondbacks or Giants but were unable to get him out there against the pair

Game 114 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals are in position to sweep the Giants this afternoon, so that perhaps gives Davey Martinez a little leeway with his lineup, perhaps not feeling the need to overwork guys with a quick turnaround to today’s 12:45 p.m. local first pitch. That means we’ve got a bit of a new look here today. It’s Asdrúbal Cabrera making his first start for

Suzuki staying productive as playing time increases

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals knew they were getting an offensive-minded catcher when they signed Kurt Suzuki over the winter. So they aren’t exactly surprised by the production they’ve gotten out of the 35-year-old veteran this season. But they’re also making sure they appreciate it. “He’s been awesome, really has,” manager Davey Martinez said. “And not just his hitting. The way he’s been calling games.

Nats use tried and true formula to beat Giants again

SAN FRANCISCO - The formula sounds simple enough. Get a quality start from the guy on the mound. Get some big hits to seize an early lead. Turn things over to the bullpen to close out a victory. For the better part of four months, the Nationals didn’t have enough of the right ingredients to concoct that formula. Most notably, the bullpen pieces. Now that

Nats officially add Cabrera to roster, drop Barraclough (Nats lead 5-1)

SAN FRANCISCO - It’s been five years, and only a few of the faces remain the same, but that didn’t diminish the smile on Asdrúbal Cabrera’s face today as he looked around the visitors’ clubhouse at Oracle Park and realized he was playing for the Nationals again. “I played here in 2014, and I had fun here,” the veteran infielder said. “Good group of guys.

Game 113 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - The Nationals have a bit of different look going on with tonight’s lineup. With rookie left-hander Conner Menez starting for the Giants, Davey Martinez has bumped Matt Adams all the way down to the No. 7 spot, behind Kurt Suzuki and Brian Dozier. And he’s giving Gerardo Parra a start in right field instead of Adam Eaton, and keeping Parra in the

For third straight day, Hudson is perfect out of Nats bullpen

SAN FRANCISCO - It might have been cause for raised eyebrows, but Daniel Hudson was so matter-of-fact about it all, going about his business with no fanfare, that it was hard to find any fault with the strategy. Hudson made his Nationals debut Saturday night in Phoenix. He returned to pitch Sunday afternoon at Chase Field. And then he was summoned out of the bullpen

Fedde in complete control in 4-0 win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - The memory of a nine-run pounding at the hands of the Braves last week perhaps was fresher on everyone’s minds, but Erick Fedde also knew how well he had pitched in his two starts prior to that disaster against one of baseball’s toughest lineups. Fedde, you may recall, had limited the Orioles and Rockies to two runs in 10 innings. Sure, those

Cabrera addition could help depleted bench (Nats up 3-0)

SAN FRANCISCO - Though they aren’t publicly confirming it yet, the Nationals are making plans to add Asdrúbal Cabrera to their roster Tuesday in what they hope will be a nice boost to a suddenly depleted bench. Cabrera, who was released by the Rangers over the weekend, agreed today to a contract with the Nationals for a prorated portion of the league minimum salary (less

Game 112 lineups: Nats at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO - It’s a beautiful afternoon along McCovey Cove, but don’t kid yourself. It’s going to be downright chilly tonight by the time the Nationals and Giants get their series opener underway. After the 110-degree heat of Arizona over the weekend, the upper 50s in the forecast later tonight are going to be quite a shock to the system. The Nats would love to

Source: Nats bringing back Asdrúbal Cabrera

SAN FRANCISCO - After watching a pair of veteran infielders go on the injured list, the Nationals are signing another familiar veteran to help fill the void: Asdrúbal Cabrera. The Nats have signed Cabrera to a major league minimum contract and hope to have him in uniform in time for Tuesday night’s game against the Giants, a source familiar with the deal confirmed. Cabrera, 33,

With Scherzer still out, Nationals need others to step up

PHOENIX - The Nationals played 17 series over a two-month stretch from late May until late July. They lost only one of those series, dropping two of three to the Braves in June on South Capitol Street. Now all of a sudden, they’ve lost three series in a row, dropping two of three apiece to the Dodgers, Braves and Diamondbacks in their worst stretch of

Nationals can’t rally, drop third straight series (updated)

PHOENIX - On a day like this, with loud contact from both sides every few minutes and a pair of pitching staffs that have had trouble limiting damage this weekend, neither the Nationals nor the Diamondbacks should ever have felt comfortable, not until the final out of this series finale was secured. The two clubs, only hours after Saturday night’s slugfest at Chase Field, engaged

Kendrick, Elías to IL; Guerra, Stevenson rejoin roster (Nats down 7-5)

PHOENIX - For two days, the Nationals hoped Howie Kendrick and Roenis Elías had suffered mere leg cramps and not hamstring strains. On the third day, they conceded the ailments were severe enough to land both players on the injured list. Kendrick and Elías were formally placed on the 10-day IL before today’s series finale against the Diamondbacks, and though club officials still believe neither

Game 111 lineups: Nats at Diamondbacks

PHOENIX - Hello one more time from Chase Field, where the Nationals and Diamondbacks wrap up their series this afternoon, each seeking to walk away having won two of three. And each sends a guy to the mound with a connection to the opposing team. Patrick Corbin makes his return to the desert, facing the organization that developed him into an All-Star, then watched him

Parra, Dozier become latest Nats position players to pitch

PHOENIX - There have been 2,376 games in Nationals history, spread out among 15 seasons since baseball returned to Washington. And in only four of those games has the club’s manager at the time resorted to handing the ball to a position player and asking him to pitch. It’s an exceptionally rare occurrence for this team, and yet there’s a bizarre common factor in almost

Strasburg takes another beating from D-backs in 18-7 rout

PHOENIX - Stephen Strasburg took the mound tonight at Chase Field looking to continue perhaps the best sustained stretch of his career. The right-hander had won seven consecutive starts and just completed a perfect a 5-0 July in which he drove in more runs (six) than he surrendered (four). And then the Diamondbacks dug in to face Strasburg and did what nobody else has done

Elías feeling better, but IL decision is looming (Nats down 10-4)

PHOENIX - The Nationals continue to hope Roenis Elías suffered only an upper leg cramp running down the line Friday night to try to beat out a chopper to short, but they are still planning to have the newly acquired reliever undergo an MRI to check for a hamstring strain and may feel compelled to place him on the injured list in the next 24

Game 110 lineups: Nats at Diamondbacks

PHOENIX - Fresh off Friday night’s impressive pitching effort in a 3-0, one-hit shutout of the Diamondbacks, the Nationals now try to make it two in a row while Stephen Strasburg tries to make it eight in a row. That would be eight wins in a row for Strasburg, the newly minted National League Picher of the Month for July, who has emerged with a

Strasburg named NL Pitcher of the Month

PHOENIX - Max Scherzer was the National League’s best pitcher in June. Stephen Strasburg was the NL’s best pitcher in July. Strasburg today became the second consecutive Nationals right-hander to earn the league’s Pitcher of the Month Award, honored for his dominant July that was every bit as impressive as his rotation mate’s dominant June. Strasburg went 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA in five starts,

Trio of acquired relievers eager to help Nats win down stretch

PHOENIX - They all had different initial reactions upon learning they had been traded - Daniel Hudson figured for weeks he’d be headed somewhere, Roenis Elías was excited to join a team in a pennant race, Hunter Strickland was completely blindsided by the news - but there was a common sentiment among all three of the Nationals’ July 31 acquisitions: They just want to help

Despite injury, new bullpen thrives in Nats’ 3-0 win

PHOENIX - Davey Martinez was handed a brand-new bullpen tonight, and with that came a whole new strategy for managing the second half of ballgames. After getting 5 1/3 scoreless innings from Joe Ross, Martinez was able to go straight to his relief corps, confident that group was deep enough to cover the rest of the game. And it absolutely was deep enough. Two newcomers

Sipp dropped from roster, Scherzer begins throwing (Nats up 2-0)

PHOENIX - Needing to clear one more roster spot for the trio of relievers they acquired before Wednesday’s trade deadline, the Nationals designated Tony Sipp for assignment today, cutting ties with the veteran reliever who never was able to consistently perform after signing with the club late in spring training. Sipp had a 4.71 ERA in 36 appearances, and though he had done a better

Game 109 lineups: Nats at Diamondbacks

PHOENIX - Hello from The Valley of the Sun, where it’s a dry 109 degrees outside but thankfully much cooler inside Chase Field, where the Nationals and Diamondbacks open a three-game series tonight. The Nats have three new relievers available out of their bullpen in Hunter Strickland, Daniel Hudson and Roenis Elías. We’ll find out soon enough how Davey Martinez intends to use them. Before

Focus returns to field as Nationals open long road trip

PHOENIX - They’ve got three new arms in their bullpen. Their rotation is still missing its ace. Their lineup is close to full-strength again. Now the Nationals’ focus returns to the field, where it will stay for the next two months. And perhaps beyond. After a furious final few hours before Wednesday’s trade deadline, not to mention a frustrating 10-inning loss to the Braves as

Were the Nationals’ deadline moves enough?

When the dust had settled after a frantic finish to this year’s July 31 madness, it was clear to anyone following along that the Nationals boasted a better roster after 4 p.m. Wednesday than they did before the trade deadline arrived. Less clear, though, was the answer to this question: Did they get better enough? The acquisitions of three late-inning relievers (Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland,

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