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State of the Nats: Nats square off with Orioles in 4-game series

State of the Nats: Nats square off with Orioles in 4-game series

Team Record: 73-50

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Orioles up next - They play just 38 miles away from each other and over the last five seasons have seen almost parallel results. When the Nats are up and winning, so are the Orioles, and their off-years have also coincided in 2013 and 2015.

But this is 2016 and both teams are back in the playoff hunt with the Nats sitting comfortably in first place with an 8 1/2 game lead in the NL East. The Orioles, meanwhile, are in a much more competitive division race. The O's were in first place as recently as Aug. 12, but currently trail the Toronto Blue Jays by 2 1/2 games.

The Orioles will still be a formidable matchup for the Nationals as a team that is 11 games over .500, and despite the fact they have lost nine of their last 13 games. They still boast the the ninth-best offense in baseball in terms of runs scored. The Nats, by the way, are sixth.

Here are how the Nats and Orioles stack up in other statistical categories with their MLB ranks in parentheses:

OFFENSE

BA: Nats .255 (17th), Orioles .262 (9th)
OPS: Nats .760 (8th), Orioles .772 (5th)
HR: Nats 164 (6th), Orioles 192 (1st)
SB: Nats 84 (8th), Orioles 14 (30th)
BB: Nats 429 (6th), Orioles 350 (23rd)
SO: Nats 935 (22nd most), Orioles 1012 (11th)

PITCHING

TEAM ERA: Nats 3.39 (2nd), Orioles 4.38 (21st)
BAA: Nats .233 (3rd), Orioles .260 (19th)
SO: Nats 1134 (2nd), Orioles 929 (22nd)
BB: Nats 356 (18th most), Orioles 434 (6th)
STARTER ERA: Nats 3.49 (2nd), Orioles 4.99 (26th) 

The Orioles, as you can see, hit a lot of homers. They have six players with 19 or more already this season and three - Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo - with 28 or more. Trumbo leads the major leagues with 37 of them. He's also fifth in MLB with 90 RBI.

Baltimore's pitching continues to be a relative weakness, but once again they have some lethal bullpen arms to watch out for. Most notable of those would be lefty closer Zach Britton, who has allowed just three earned runs in 53 appearances. He's got a 0.54 ERA and 37 saves in 37 chances. Britton has struck out 59 batters in 50 1/3 innings and could be an interesting case for Cy Young in a wide-open AL field. Brad Brach (1.59 ERA, 54 G) is another reliever to keep an eye one, though the O's will be without Darren O'Day, whom the Nats coveted this past winter in free agency.

Per usual, the Orioles' rotation has lagged behind their bullpen. The Nats, though, will see their two best starters in Dylan Bundy on Monday night and Chris Tillman on Thursday. Bundy, a former fourth overall pick, has a 3.36 ERA with 70 strikeouts across 75 innings this season. 

As even as these teams have matched each other in the standings and statistically over the years, the Orioles have had the upper hand in the head-to-head series. Since the beginning of the 2012 season, when they have been in lock step with each other, the Orioles have gone 14-6 against the Nats. Going back to the start of 2009, they are 25-13. And all-time the O's hold a 33-23 advantage.

There have been lopsided results and whether it's a rivalry at all depends on whom you ask. That's not to say, though, that there haven't been some fireworks. It was just last year that Jonathan Papelbon beaned Manny Machado for pimping a home run, an incident that Bryce Harper called "tired." Papelbon then attacked Harper just days later, likely in part as retaliation for his comments. There was also the 2014 game when Orioles manager Buck Showalter yelled at Jayson Werth to get back in the batter's box after he fouled a pitch off his leg. Showalter used some choice words and Werth then grounded out to end the game as chants of 'Werth-less' rained down in Baltimore. There was also Harper saying just last year that he hates hitting at Camden Yards. He didn't mean it as a slight, but many O's fans certainly took it that way.

We'll see if this week adds any fuel to that fire.

NL East Standings

Offensive game of the week: Bryce Harper 8/21 vs. Braves - 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, R, SB

Pitching line of the week: Reynaldo Lopez 8/18 vs. Braves - 7.0 IP, ER, 2 R, 4 H, 11 SO, 2 BB, 101 pitches (73 strikes)

Quote of the Week 

“I said, ‘I don’t know man. You need to hit the weights a little bit.'”

- Ben Revere to Freddie Freeman after his home run-saving catch on Friday night

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road Ahead

Mon. - 7:05 p.m. at Baltimore Orioles (Cole vs. Bundy)
Tue. - 7:05 p.m. at Baltimore Orioles (Lopez vs. Gausman)
Wed. - 7:05 p.m. vs. Baltimore Orioles (Roark vs. Miley)
Thu. - 7:05 p.m. vs. Baltimore Orioles (Scherzer vs. Tillman)
Fri. - 7:05 p.m. vs. Colorado Rockies (Gonzalez vs. Hoffman)
Sat. - 1:05 p.m. vs. Colorado Rockies (TBA vs. De La Rosa)
Sun. - 1:35 p.m. vs. Colorado Rockies (Lopez vs. Bettis)

[RELATED: Nats' Espinosa has tough day, Gio trending in wrong direction]

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE