Team Record: 30-21
When will we see Trea Turner? - The Nationals are in first place in the NL East and could make a significant addition to their roster very soon.
Waiting in Triple-A is shortstop Trea Turner, who is batting .319 through 47 games with Syracuse and is ranked the ninth-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. He has yet to play with the Nationals this season in part due to his MLB service time clock, but as of this week, that is no longer a concern.
By keeping Turner in the minors until now, the Nationals preserved an extra year of Turner's rookie contract. The cutoff is 172 days on a 25-man roster, what is considered a full year of service time. Turner logged 45 days last year and there are 126 days remaining in the 2016 regular season. Add those two numbers up and you get 171, one day short of the full-year allotment.
Exactly when the Nats will pull the trigger to bring up Turner and whom will be affected is not clear. The obvious first place to look is at shortstop where Danny Espinosa is batting just .201/.299/.314. With his high average and impressive speed (16-for-16 in SB at Triple-A), Turner may represent an upgrade offensively, even if he takes time to adjust to the big league level. But what about defense? Espinosa remains a plus-defender at shortstop, while Turner has committed eight errors already in 44 games at Syracuse. That pace would give him 29 over a 162-game season, which is a lot.
When Turner comes up, the Nats will have to remove somebody from their bench. Stephen Drew is currently their backup infielder and is on a one-year, $3 million deal. Interestingly enough, Drew has a series of performance bonuses in his contract based on games played. If he reaches 80 games this season, for instance, he earns another $150,000. If he gets to 90 games it's another $200,000 and another $200,000 for 100. For 110 games he would get $250,000. Drew has only appeared in 27 games this season, so the extra money isn't a pressing concern for the Nats, but it is something to consider.
As far as his performance on the field goes, Drew's .157 batting average isn't doing him any favors, but he does bring value defensively with the ability to play three positions. Aside from the one time he lost a ball in the sun, he's been fairly solid at second base, third base and at shortstop.
Scherzer's Mount Rushmore - This week I spoke with Max Scherzer for a separate story, but also threw in some random questions towards the end of our conversation, including one on his favorite pitchers of all-time. Scherzer knew immediately who to highlight, as he had clearly thought of this before.
"My four favorites growing up, my Mount Rushmore, it was [Greg] Maddux, [John] Smoltz, Pedro [Martinez] and Randy Johnson. Those four, those were my guys. I loved the way Pedro went after and attacked hitters. I loved the way he threw the ball just with everything. Those were the guys I always tuned in to and made sure I always tried to find if I were ever going to a baseball game and knew they were going to throw," he said.
"You can appreciate everything that those guys did, what made them successful and how they went after hitters and how they were all able to do it for such a long time. I think that's the thing. Anybody can have a great year, but when you start talking about longevity of a career, eight to 10 years of pitching at an elite level, that's an unbelievable feat."
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Ryan Zimmerman 5/28 vs. Cardinals - 4-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Pitching line of the week: Joe Ross 5/26 vs. Cardinals - 7.0 IP, ER, 6 H, 4 SO, BB, 110 pitches (74 strikes)
Quote of the Week
"I guess the baseball gods don't want me to wear the batting gloves right now. I went up and hit a homer and came back and cut 'em up just so guys don't come out of the trash can and grab 'em and sell 'em. It's happened before."
Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week
Mon. - 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Roark vs. Hellickson)
Tue. - 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Ross vs. Nola)
Wed. - 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Scherzer vs. Morgan)
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - 7:10 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds (Strasburg vs. Straily)
Sat. - 4:10 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds (Roark vs. Moscot)
Sun. - 1:10 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds (Ross vs. Latos)