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Nationals roster review: Stephen Strasburg

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Nationals roster review: Stephen Strasburg

Age on Opening Day 2016: 27

How acquired: 1st round pick, 2009 draft

MLB service time: 5 years, 118 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $7.4 million

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2016, free agent in 2017

2015 stats: 23 GS, 127.1 IP, 115 H, 56 R, 49 ER, 14 HR, 26 BB, 155 K, 1.107 WHIP, 11-7, 3.46 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 2.1 WAR

Quotable: "I think I learned to be more aware of my thoughts out there. There are times in the game when you can kind of let your focus slip just for a split second. And I made it a point to not let that happen, to just focus on each pitch and just let everything I've got go on that individual pitch and turn the page." — Stephen Strasburg

2015 analysis: To say this was an unusual season for Strasburg is an understatement. On Memorial Day, he owned a 3-5 record and 6.55 ERA that ranked 109th out of 110 qualifying major-league starters. How the right-hander managed to then go 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA after that to completely salvage his season was nothing short of remarkable.

The biggest key to Strasburg's turnaround was health. He suffered a minor ankle sprain in spring training, but that had a domino effect on him, leading to poor mechanics and recurring neck and back pain. He finally seemed headed on the right path in midsummer, but then a strained oblique suffered on Independence Day knocked him out another month.

Thanks to a dominant final stretch, Strasburg finished his season on a true high note. In spite of those early struggles, he still wound up posting a lower WHIP, opponents' batting average, on-base percentage and OPS and a higher strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2015 than he did in 2014.

2016 outlook: The Nationals went to great lengths to protect Strasburg early in his professional career, hoping to get the most possible out of him before he would be eligible for free agency. Well, he's about to enter his final season of club control, so if ever there was a time to get everything they can out of him, this is it.

For that to happen, Strasburg will have to avoid the early season struggles he endured through in both 2014 and 2015. He should head to spring training 100 percent healthy and now has a better understanding what ailments he should or should not attempt to pitch through. If that all goes well, the Nationals hope to get a complete, full season of Strasburg at his best, seeing where that takes them.

There could be a scenario, however, in which Strasburg doesn't spend 2016 in Washington. As was the case last winter with Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals could field trade offers for Strasburg, recognizing the likelihood of signing him to a long-term deal is slim at this point. That said, general manager Mike Rizzo will be reluctant to part ways with Strasburg a year before he has to, needing to be blown away by a trade offer. With Zimmermann and Doug Fister gone, the Nationals probably need Strasburg to help anchor their rotation alongside Max Scherzer.

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.