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State of the Nats: All-Star starters to be announced, Papelbon is back

State of the Nats: All-Star starters to be announced, Papelbon is back

Team Record: 50-34

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Who will make the All-Star team? - The 2016 MLB All-Star starters are announced on Tuesday night in a 7 p.m. special aired on ESPN, and the Nationals should have plenty of representatives this year as a first place team that has enjoyed considerable health to this point. They may even send more players than ever.

The team record for All-Star reps is four set back in 2012 when Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Ian Desmond all made the team. This season they could have at least four and maybe more depending on several factors.

The expected ones to make it would be Harper and Strasburg, as well as Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos. If any of those didn't make the team, it would be a relative surprise. Is there room for any more Nats on the NL squad?

After catching fire over the last month-plus, Danny Espinosa is now sixth among MLB shortstops in WAR. He's third in the NL at his position. He's at the very least in the mix and might be a good candidate for the annual final vote competition. The other wild cards would be Tanner Roark (7-5, 2.93) and Max Scherzer (9-6, 3.21), though the crop of starting pitchers is so deep these days that those numbers likely will not cut it. The most reasonable expectation would have them getting four players in and tying the team record, not breaking it. The franchise record, by the way, is five representatives. That was done three times by the Expos, most recently in 1994.

The 2016 MLB All-Star Game takes place on July 12th at Petco Park in San Diego, Ca.

Papelbon solid in return - Jonathan Papelbon came back on Monday and pitched well despite it coming in a Nationals' loss. The veteran closer tossed a perfect inning against the Brewers, needing only 13 pitches for three outs including three strikeouts. He looked strong and maybe even refreshed as he hit 92 and even 93 on the radar gun in his first game back.

Papelbon had his issues before he went on the DL, but there's no question that getting him back dramatically changes the outlook for the Nats' bullpen. For the most part they did well in his absence, but it required manager Dusty Baker to at times mix-and-match with guys who weren't suited for certain roles.

On Monday, Baker sounded excited to have Papelbon back in the mix.

“Papelbon looked pretty good. I mean, he looked real good. He didn’t throw a bunch of pitches. He was around the strike zone. So he gets our bullpen back in sync. Papelbon looked very good," Baker said.

Papelbon had been saying for days he was ready to return before they actually brought him back, and on Monday was pleased with his outing.

"I felt pretty strong and I felt pretty healthy. And I felt like my delivery was intact. I feel ready to go and continue the season to the last pitch of the season," he said.

With Papelbon back, the question of which reliever gets sent down has been delayed. The Nats instead opted to put outfielder Michael Taylor in the minors to get some more playing time. At some point they will need to restock their bench. Could that be Trea Turner? That seems logical at this point. But which reliever goes? It should be interesting.

NL East Standings

Offensive game of the week: Danny Espinosa 6/30 vs. Reds - 2-for-4, 2 HR, GS, 7 RBI, 2 R

Pitching line of the week: Stephen Strasburg 7/3 vs. Reds - 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 5 SO, 4 BB, 109 pitches (70 strikes)

Quote of the Week 

"It's just obvious that he wants to beat 'em up. It's obvious. Everybody wants to. When you face you're former team, you obviously wanna get the best of them. For him to come out here and really slug against them, it puts a smile on all of our faces because we know what he's going through."

- Max Scherzer on Daniel Murphy hitting two homers against the Mets.

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road Ahead

Mon. - 1-0 loss vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Tue. - 7:05 p.m. vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Gonzalez vs. Davies)
Wed. - 4:05 p.m. vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Roark vs. Garza)
Thu. - 7:10 p.m. at New York Mets (Giolito vs. Colon)
Fri. - 7:10 p.m. at New York Mets (Strasburg vs. Syndergaard)
Sat. - 7:15 p.m. at New York Mets (Scherzer vs. Harvey)
Sun. - 1:10 p.m. at New York Mets (Gonzalez vs. Matz)

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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. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.