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State of the Nats: D-backs up next, Giolito on good pace with innings

State of the Nats: D-backs up next, Giolito on good pace with innings

Team Record: 61-44

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Diamondbacks up next - The Nats continue their long road trip on Monday night with a 9:40 p.m. bout with the Arizona Diamondbacks, one of this year's most disappointing MLB teams. The D-Backs are dead-last in the crowded NL West at 43-62, 19 games below .500. 

There will be some familiar faces in the other dugout this week, former Nationals manager Matt Williams among them. He is back in his old job as Diamondbacks third base coach. That should make for an interesting reunion.

The Nats will also face their former prospect, lefty Robbie Ray, in Tuesday's game. Ray was shipped to the Detroit Tigers back in 2013 as part of the Doug Fister trade. A former 12th round pick of the Nats, Ray is 5-10 with a 4.70 ERA this season.

Max Scherzer will also be facing his former team on Wednesday when he starts against the Diamondbacks. He was their first round pick (11th overall) in 2006 and spent two seasons there.

Arizona is a decent offensive team. They rank average among MLB teams in runs scored (16th), on-base percentage (18th) and slugging percentage (10th). The reason why they are bad is because of pitching. They place 29th in team ERA (4.93), WHIP (1.48) and batting average-against (.272).

The Diamondbacks are terrible and have lost nine of their last 12 games, but they still have Paul Goldschmidt, who is enjoying a solid year. And their 25-year-old third baseman Jake Lamb is also a player worth watching.

Giolito up-and-down, but innings are in check - Lucas Giolito made his first minor league start since getting sent back down by the Nats on Sunday with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. Pitching on six days rest, Giolito allowed five runs (4 ER) on five hits and four walks against the Buffalo Bisons. He was nowhere near as good as he was in his first Triple-A start on July 19 when he tossed 6 2/3 innings without an earned run against Gwinnett. 

Giolito continues to search for consistency with commanding the strike zone and the results have not been great in recent weeks. Over his last seven outings - three in the majors, four in the minors - he's surrendered 19 earned runs in 34 1/3 innings pitched, which equals a 4.98 ERA. He's given up 19 walks and five homers during that stretch, and opponents held an .814 OPS against him. 

The good news for Giolito is that the Nats have done a really good job conserving his workload this season. He's averaged just over 25 innings per month and is at 100 2/3 total this year across the four levels he's pitched. If they can get him sorted out, he could still make an impact down the stretch. 

Last year he posted a career-high of 117 innings and at this rate wouldn't surpass that number until the second half of August. If the Nats opt to use Giolito through the end of the regular season and maybe even the playoffs, they can likely do so without drastically upping his workload from the previous year, which is important considering his age (22) and the fact he had Tommy John surgery in 2012.

NL East Standings

Offensive game of the week: Anthony Rendon 7/26 vs. Indians - 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B

Pitching line of the week: Stephen Strasburg 7/27 vs. Indians - 7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 7 SO, 2 BB, 110 pitches (71 strikes)

Quote of the Week 

“He's been awesome about it. It's a tough situation, so I understand . Like he said, `we're here to win a championship, whatever it takes.'"

- new Nats closer Mark Melancon on Jonathan Papelbon

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road Ahead

Mon. - 9:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Strasburg vs. Bradley)
Tue. - 9:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Roark vs. Ray)
Wed. - 3:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Scherzer vs. Godley)
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - 7:05 p.m. vs. San Francisco Giants (Ross vs. Peavy)
Sat. - 7:05 p.m. vs. San Francisco Giants (Gonzalez vs. Cain)
Sun. - 1:35 p.m. vs. San Francisco Giants (Strasburg vs. Bumgarner)

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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.