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State of the Nats: Mets coming to town, Ramos having a huge month

State of the Nats: Mets coming to town, Ramos having a huge month

Team Record: 27-17

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Mets up next - Just four days after the Nats and Mets wrapped up their first head-to-head series of the season, they will meet again at Nationals Park in three games Monday through Wednesday. The Nationals took two of three in New York and outscored the Mets 16-2 in the final two games. The only game they lost was against Noah Syndergaard and he isn't pitching in this series. Neither is Jacob deGrom, which should bode well for the Nats.

Since they last saw each other, the Nationals took two of three at the Miami Marlins, while the Mets rebounded with a sweep against the lowly Milwaukee Brewers at home. This will be an important series for the Mets, who are about to go through one of their toughest stretches of the 2016 season. After playing at the Nats, they host the Dodgers and White Sox, then go at the Marlins and at the Pirates. 

The one game that stands out among the three the Nats and Mets are set to play is Tuesday with Mets pitcher Matt Harvey set to make his first since the worst outing of his career last Wednesday. Harvey gave up eight earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings of work vs. the Nationals. The Mets floated the idea of adjusting his next start that night, but opted to keep him in there for a rematch against the Nats. How he responds to that outing will be watched very closely by Mets fans and baseball fans alike.

Ramos ranks among best catchers - Catcher Wilson Ramos pitched in on Sunday with two hits and a walk in the Nats' victory over the Marlins. It was the 12th time in his last 13 games that he's reached base at least once and he's now batting .347/.389/.525 on the season. His average ranks at the top of the majors for catchers with at least 100 at-bats:

Wilson Ramos         .347
Yadier Molina          .307
J.T. Realmuto           .304
Welington Castillo   .288
Jonathan Lucroy      .287

Ramos was terrific in April with a .317 average in 57 AB and in May he's hitting .377 (61 AB). He's played in only 33 out of the Nats' 44 games, but so far is enjoying a career year. His .914 OPS ranks third on the team behind Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. Ramos has never held an OPS over .779 in his seven MLB seasons.

Belisle set to rehab - The Nationals are close to getting reliever Matt Belisle back, as the veteran continues to recover from a right calf strain. On Monday night, he will begin a minor league rehab assignment with the Single-A Potomac Nationals. Manager Dusty Baker revealed the plan to reporters in Miami over the weekend. 

We don't know how long Belisle will be playing minor league games before he returns, but it could be interesting once he does make it back. The guy who replaced him, lefty Sammy Solis, has been strong with a 2.38 ERA in nine appearances. He's the Nats' third lefty reliever right now. Do they send him back down, or go with somebody else? If it were just based on numbers, Felipe Rivero's 10 earned runs in 20 innings would stand out. But Rivero is a rare talent with his triple digits fastball as a lefty and has at times this year looked like a useful weapon. A lot can change in a week or two, but it doesn't appear to be an easy decision at this point.

NL East Standings

Offensive game of the week: Daniel Murphy 5/19 vs. Mets - 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2B, 2 R, BB

Pitching line of the week: Stephen Strasburg 5/19 vs. Mets - 6.0 IP, ER, 6 H, 10 SO, BB, 113 pitches (78 strikes)

Quote of the Week 

"91-93 [miles per hour] instead of 97-98. I think that goes back to, he had surgery last year and forced 230 innings. 

I feel bad for him. He comes off the mound and gets booed, and he's one of the best in baseball."

- Bryce Harper on Matt Harvey to Sports Illustrated

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road Ahead

Mon. - 7:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Gonzalez vs. Colon)
Tue. - 7:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Strasburg vs. Harvey)
Wed. - 7:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Roark vs. Matz)
Thu. - 7:05 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Ross vs. Leake)
Fri. - 7:05 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Scherzer vs. Garcia)
Sat. - 7:15 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Gonzalez vs. Wainwright)
Sun. - 1:35 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Strasburg vs. Wacha)

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?


Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.


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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine


Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.


He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.