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Roark's two-seamer helps him bounce back against Braves

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Roark's two-seamer helps him bounce back against Braves

With his start bumped up a day due to a sick Stephen Strasburg, Nats pitcher Tanner Roark had only 24-hours notice before he faced the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday in his second outing of the 2016 season.

That, plus cold temperatures, were not enough to faze the Nats' right-hander, as Roark continued his domination of the Braves, whom he debuted against in 2013. Roark threw seven scoreless innings and now has a 1.78 ERA in 13 appearances against Atlanta.

On this particular day it was his two-seam fastball that led the way. Roark was grooving it inside and out with extra effectiveness against lefties. Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis and Mallex Smith, the top of the Braves' order, went a combined 0-for-9 against Roark. Markakis drew two walks, but that's a strong set of results against a dangerous trio of left-handers.

"It's very effective," manager Dusty Baker said about Roark's fastball. "It's some big hitters. You saw Freddie Freeman. You rarely see him go down like that, and I think he threw one to [Erick] Aybar, that comeback sinker on the inside. That's a tough pitch. It looks like a ball, and by the time you see it it's a strike and your only hope is that the umpire can call it a ball."

Catcher Wilson Ramos was impressed by the late movement on Roark's two-seamer.

"It's hard to hit that pitch because all the lefties saw that pitch on their ribs and it come back to the corner. That's really, really hard to hit that pitch. That's good man. Today, all pitches worked good, especially the sinker. Worked inside with that pitch, it worked good," Ramos said.

Roark faced a Braves lineup stacked with lefties, with cleanup hitter Adonis Garcia and and pitcher Matt Wisler as the only right-handed bats that started for Atlanta on Wednesday.

That didn't affect Roark, either.

“I’ve got to pitch my game. You can’t let a plethora of lefties just make your game switch. You’ve got to keep going at them, keep attacking and pitch inside," Roark said.

Pitching coach Mike Maddux helped develop a gameplan for Roark with heavy emphasis on his fastball. Again, with the two-seamer.

"He loves the ride-back to lefties, and to righties. But the biggest thing is: You’ve got to make sure you get it in there. It’s got to come in looking like a ball and then come back. If it starts off as a strike and then goes back over the middle, that’s when you get hurt. So you’ve got to make sure you execute your pitch and make sure it gets in there,” he said.

Roark may have struggled in the team's home opener, but he appears to be back on track thanks to one pitch in particular.

[RELATED: Nats' Papelbon says he feels better than he has in 'many years']

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

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