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Ross moving to bullpen, Roark will start in place


Ross moving to bullpen, Roark will start in place

Joe Ross won’t start another game for the Nationals this season, but he’ll still get opportunities to pitch out of the bullpen over the next four weeks while Tanner Roark takes his spot in the rotation.

Sensing their rookie right-hander was showing signs of fatigue as his innings count built up beyond levels from his previous seasons in the minors, the Nationals decided to pull him from their rotation now. Ross won’t be shut down completely, though, with team officials confident he can make occasional, brief appearances out of the bullpen the rest of the month.

“He’s at a point now that he’s never been to,” manager Matt Williams said. “Little bit fatigued in that regard, so to ask him to go out every fifth day and pitch six innings would be unfair to him. But he’s able to pitch out of the bullpen. Come in for an inning where needed and continue to pitch that way and experience it.”

Ross, 22, has thrown 73 2/3 innings in 13 big-league starts, going 5-5 with a 3.79 ERA. He also made 14 combined starts between Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse, totaling 76 innings.

The young hurler impressed the Nationals with his performance and poise, but his last two starts were noticeably different. After posting a 65-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first 11 outings, he struck out only three while walking nine over his last two appearances. His velocity also dipped over the weekend against the Braves.

“The last start anyway, he was feeling pretty fatigued,” Williams said. “I think it was evident by what we saw.”

Though there was speculation the Nationals would shut down Ross entirely, as they’ve done with other young pitchers, general manager Mike Rizzo was comfortable letting him continue to pitch an inning or two at a time out of the bullpen.

“We always were cognizant of his limitations and where we wanted to be with him,” Rizzo said. “But Joe’s situation is different than an injured or rehabbing player. He’s a healthy pitcher that, because of his youth and because of his workload in the past, we have stringent configurations on what we do with those type of pitchers. …

“With the escalation that he’s had, starting in Double-A and getting here to pitch meaningful innings for us, we felt that it was time to get flipped to the bullpen, to get him through the last month of the season, which he’s never been through before, and give him a taste of what it’s like to play through a full major-league season.”

Roark now will take Ross’ rotation spot, likely starting Saturday in Miami. The right-hander, who has shuttled between the rotation and bullpen this season, started Friday night against the Braves but was pulled after only 4 1/3 innings and 69 pitches. Williams said he would be good to throw roughly 90-to-95 pitches now.

RELATED: Zimmerman out of lineup vs. Mets with new injury

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

USA Today Sports

Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.

Dancing is not.

On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor. 

With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch." 

Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.

While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."


It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.

While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle. 

106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.