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State of the Nats: Marlins up next; what happened to Yusmeiro Petit?

State of the Nats: Marlins up next; what happened to Yusmeiro Petit?

Team Record: 88-61

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Marlins up next - The Nats had some unexpected trouble with the Braves and dropped their series in Atlanta over the weekend. Now they move on to Miami to take on a Marlins team that is five games out of the final NL Wild Card spot with just 13 left to play. It's desperation time for the Fish and they happen to be playing decent lately with six wins in their last 10 games. They also took two of three vs. the Dodgers two weekends ago.

The Nationals, meanwhile, have lost three of their last five. They still look to be in no danger of losing their grip on the NL East, but they aren't exactly running away with it either.

The Nats and Marlins haven't played each other since May 22. Now they will square off twice in a span of two weeks. They have three games in Miami to begin this week, then three at Nationals Park to close the season. In their 13 matchups so far, the Nats and Marlins have played almost evenly. The Nats hold a 7-6 advantage in games played and a 47-45 edge in runs scored.

Lately both the Nats and Marlins have had trouble scoring runs. They each rank 22nd or worse in baseball in run production in September. The Nationals have continued to pitch well over the last several weeks with the eighth best team ERA (3.43) in September. They are also seventh in strikeouts with the second-fewest walks.

The Marlins's 4.72 team ERA in September ranks 20th in baseball. That includes ace Jose Fernandez, who has allowed 10 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings in three starts this month. That's because of two rough starts at the Braves and Indians. Against the Dodgers two outings ago, Fernandez was his usual dominant self with 14 strikeouts and just three hits allowed in seven scoreless innings. He'll face the Nats on Tuesday.

The Nats will see lefty Wei-Yin Chen in the opener on Monday night, as he makes his return from an elbow strain. Chen hasn't pitched since July 20 and has only worked his way to 65 pitches in a simulated game, so expect him to be limited against the Nats. He did, though, pitch well against them in their lone meeting this season when he gave up three runs in seven innings at Nationals Park on April 20.

For the Marlins on offense, watch out for catcher J.T. Realmuto. He's hitting .346 with 10 RBI in 14 September games. Ichiro Suzuki has also been very good this month with a .300 average and 12 runs in 15 outings. 

What happened to Yusmeiro Petit? - With Joe Ross back on the mound Sunday in Atlanta, but only able to pitch three innings, the Nationals turned to rookie Reynaldo Lopez to take over as their long reliever. They did not choose Yusmeiro Petit, the guy they signed this offseason to be their long reliever, and the guy who has pitched just 1 1/3 innings this month in one appearance on Sept. 8 against the Phillies.

That outing, in fact, is the only time Petit has pitched since Aug. 27, when he gave up five runs in one awful inning against the Rockies. That's one appearance in a span of 22 days. Petit has essentially been banished to the back of the Nats' bullpen, never to be seen again. It is September, and manager Dusty Baker has plenty of pitchers to use, but this is unusual.

It's a curious situation and one that Baker hasn't addressed all that recently. He has said at times this season that just because he's avoiding Petit, doesn't mean it's on purpose, that Petit is there for specific game situations. But Sunday certainly seemed like a good spot for Petit, yet they chose not to use him.

Is it as simple as game situations dictating his use? Or, is there another reason we have not been told of yet that is keeping him out? It's a bizarre case to evaluate, especially with two weeks now until the playoffs, where he could come in handy with his experience and versatility.

NL East Standings

Offensive game of the week: Trea Turner 9/17 vs. Braves - 3-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB, BB

Pitching line of the week: Tanner Roark 9/14 vs. Mets - 7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 7 SO, 4 BB, 101 pitches (56 strikes)

Quote of the Week 

"As we got into that ninth inning with a one-run lead, I got emotional. I was saying some powerful prayers... I know he’s happy today, for that, and it may add a little bit of joy to the tough time that he’s in right now.”

- Bench coach Chris Speier on beating the Mets with Baker gone due to the death of a family member

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road Ahead

Mon. - 7:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Cole vs. Chen)
Tue. - 7:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Roark vs. Fernandez)
Wed. - 7:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Scherzer vs. Koehler)
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Gonzalez vs. Taillon)
Sat. - 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Ross vs. Nova)
Sun. - 1:35 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Cole vs. Brault)

[RELATED: Nats players share funniest, most disturbing stories of fan heckling]


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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.