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Nats take national stage tonight

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Nats take national stage tonight

When ESPN announced over the winter it would be televising the first Sunday Night Baseball game at Nationals Park since the place opened in 2008, naturally the execs at the Worldwide Leader expected this game would feature the first-place Nationals shooting for their eighth-straight win over the last-place Phillies. Right? Right?

The Nationals couldn't have asked for better timing to unveil their 18-9 club to a nationwide audience. Sure, they'd love to have Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche in the lineup. Then again, the current group has successfully put 40 men on base the last two days. Not wanting to tinker with perfection, Davey Johnson will go with the same lineup tonight, even though left-hander Cole Hamels is on the mound for Philadelphia.

Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, gets the start for the Nationals. Here's hoping the right-hander (often the forgotten man of this rotation) gets some well-deserved national attention.

Lots of updates to come, so please check the live game thread on Nats Insider...

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 8:05 p.m. EDT
TV: ESPN
Radio: WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WTEM (980 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), WNEW (1580 AM), XM 89
Weather: Partly cloudy, 69 degrees, Wind 7 mph RF to LF

NATIONALS (18-9)
SS Ian Desmond
3B Steve Lombardozzi
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Chad Tracy
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Jordan Zimmermann

PHILLIES (13-15)
SS Jimmy Rollins
LF Juan Pierre
CF Shane Victorino
RF Hunter Pence
1B Laynce Nix
C Carlos Ruiz
3B Placido Polanco
2B Pete Orr
LHP Cole Hamels

UMPIRES
HP Andy Fletcher, 1B D.J. Reyburn, 2B Rob Drake, 3B Sam Holbrook

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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.

RELATED: HOWIE KENDRICK RETURNING TO NATIONALS

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."

RELATED: BEST OF NATS' RACING PRESIDENT TRYOUTS

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

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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.