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Nationals quickly closing in the top seed in the National League

Nationals quickly closing in the top seed in the National League

Don’t look now, but the once far off, no hope in catching them, Los Angeles Dodgers are within striking range of the Washington Nationals.

On August 25, the Nationals were an astounding 14.5 games behind the Dodgers for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for the National League playoffs. Today, September 12, the Nationals are merely 3.5 games behind.

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Losers of 11 straight and 16 of their last 17 games, the Dodgers have completely fallen apart. In those 17 games, they have been outscored 99-43. Los Angeles’ starting pitching, which was supposed to take them straight to a World Series title cannot put together a good string of innings.

The newly acquired Yu Darvish has struggled with 13 earned runs in his last three starts, equating to a 9.48 ERA during the losing stretch. The supporting cast has not been much better and the offense is nearly non-existent.

The only saving grace for the Dodgers is Clayton Kershaw who just got back from the disabled list on September 1. He only has started two games since being back, winning one, and holding a 3.72 ERA with 14 strikeouts across those two starts.

During that same stretch of 17 games, the Nationals are 12-5. Since August 25, the team has gotten healthier, activating Trea Turner, Jayson Werth, and Max Scherzer back into the line-up.  Earlier this week, Washington solidified their slot in the playoffs by claiming the East Division title for the fourth time in six years.

For the first time since mid-July, the starting rotation of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark is fully intact.

All a great sign for the Nationals especially while the squad is waiting for the face of their franchise, Bryce Harper, to heal his left knee on the disabled list.

This weekend the Dodgers visit Nationals Park for a three-game series that will be a huge factor in the push for the post-season. Not only are the Nationals now threatening for the top seed in the National League, the Dodgers have yet to lock up a playoff spot. Although the Arizona Diamondbacks are nine games back, but are the second hottest team in the majors going 13-3 since the Dodgers started stumbling.

If the Nationals get past Los Angeles, it might not only be for seeding in the playoffs. It may lead way to a battle for the top record in the MLB and guaranteed home-filed throughout the World Series. 

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

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