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Instant analysis: Nats 6, Giants 4


Instant analysis: Nats 6, Giants 4

Game in a nutshell: The Stephen Strasburg-Tim Lincecum pitching showdown was overshadowed first by news of Melky Cabrera's 50-game suspension after testing positive for testosterone, then by Lincecum's ineffective start. The Nationals knocked the struggling, two-time Cy Young Award winner out after only four innings, getting his pitch count all the way up to 96. Strasburg, meanwhile, battled his way through a laborious second inning and wound up tossing six strong frames to earn his 14th win of the season. Throw in some timely hits from Jayson Werth (2-for-4, three RBI), Danny Espinosa (2-run homer) and Steve Lombardozzi (4-for-5) and the Nationals emerged with a series victory, an 8-2 road trip and will return home still holding baseball's best record at 73-45.

Hitting highlight: How important has Werth been to the Nationals' overall fortunes since returning from the disabled list? Very. With a pair of run-scoring hits today that drove in three total runs, the veteran outfielder is now hitting .402 (17-for-42) with a .490 on-base percentage and .548 slugging percentage in 13 total games since his return. Perhaps most impressively, Werth is showing more aggressiveness at the plate, looking to drive in runs more than taking walks, especially with men in scoring position (a bit of a problem last season). Ultimately, Werth's biggest impact has been on the Nationals' won-loss record. He's now started 11 games since coming off the DL, and the Nats have gone 10-1 in those games.

Pitching highlight: Strasburg labored through a tough second inning, issuing a pair of walks to Buster Posey and Hunter Pence (both wound up coming around to score on Brandon Belt's single) but that was his only real hiccup of the afternoon. The right-hander retired 12 of the last 15 batters he faced, cruising through the sixth inning having allowed only those two early runs on four hits. But his pitch count was once again elevated at 100, so Davey Johnson decided not to take any chances and turn to his bullpen for the seventh. So, for those keeping track, Strasburg is now 14-5 with a 2.91 ERA in 21 starts, having struck out a league-leading 173 batters in 139 13 innings.

Key stat: Over the last six games of this trip, Lombardozzi went 13-for-25, raising his batting average from .261 to .280.

Up next: After 10 games in three cities in two time zones, the Nationals get a well-deserved day off Thursday. They'll then return to South Capitol Street Friday at 7:05 p.m. to face the Mets. Ross Detwiler is scheduled to face Johan Santana, and shortstop Ian Desmond is likely to return from the DL.

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Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wieters aren't the only important guys within the Nationals organization becoming free agents in 2019.

President of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo is also becoming a free agent when his contract expires on October 31st.

In the final year of his five-year contract, the 57-year old is set to make $2.5 million.


Since joining the organization, Rizzo has turned the team into a legit World Series contender. They've won four division titles in the last six years under his guidance, but have been unable to get over the NL Division series hump. And even though that's a glaring red mark on his resume, Rizzo knows the success he's brought to the organization. 

When you look at what we accomplished,’’ Mike Rizzo said in a recent interview, “it’s really unsung and underappreciated. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished here. I like it here. I love the city. I love the team I put together. I like being a GM in the NL East. And I want to stay here. I just think I deserve to be treated like some of the best GMs in the game are, too.

Rizzo is talking about GM's like Cubs' Theo Epstein and Yankees' Brian Cashman, who've received big paydays over the last year.

I know we haven’t won the World Series, but I get tired of hearing how we can’t win the big one, or we can’t get out of the first round. We haven’t had that many chances.

Does Rizzo deserve an extension? The Sports Junkies think he does, but with GM's like the ones above cashing out, they can also see him wanting to test the open market.

"Why wouldn't they?", said Jason Bishop, noting his track record.

"There's a sense he wants to test the market," said Eric Bickel. That's the vibe I'm getting from him."

Rizzo is a weekly guest on the Junkies and has said that the organization will figure it out. However, the 2018 season may be the last time for a long time the Nats have a real shot at making a run before they lose some of their stars to other teams. If Rizzo does take that into consideration and decides to go elsewhere, the Junkies don't see him having any issues finding employment.

"If there was a time to roll, it would be after this season when you get your last run with this group," said Eric Bickel. And then If they don't pay you what you think you deserve, he'll be snatched up in 22 seconds."


If they do decide to sign him to an extension, will it be a long, drawn-out ordeal? The Junkies disagree on that one. 

"He is too valuable, Jason Bishop said. He's too valuable. You gotta ink him to a deal sometime during the season."

Luckily for D.C. sports fans, long, drawn-out extension talks aren't foreign to them.

To see their full discussion, click the media player above. 

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years


Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals have agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with outfielder Howie Kendrick, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Agent Pat Murphy confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Monday. USA Today was first to report the deal.

Kendrick, 34, hit .293 with seven home runs and RBIs in 52 games with Washington after he was acquired from Philadelphia. The versatile right-handed hitter got just three plate appearances off the bench in the playoffs.

In 12 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .291 hitter with a .755 OPS. He's now primarily an outfielder for Washington after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.