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State of the Nats: Zimmermann returns, Harper on his plate discipline

State of the Nats: Zimmermann returns, Harper on his plate discipline

Team Record: 19-12

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Harper on his plate vision and reflexes - Bryce Harper set an MLB record during the Nats' four games in Chicago with 13 walks, the most ever in a single series. On Sunday, he broke a record by reaching base seven times without a single official at-bat. He walked six times during that game, which tied an MLB record.

Harper is now second in the majors with 30 walks in 31 games. Many of those have been intentional, but clearly Harper has a command of the strike zone that is as good as any player in the game today.

In a recent interview I did with Harper, I asked him if there were any drills or exercises he has done either in the past or currently that have helped with his vision and reflexes. He described what has helped him the most:

"There's a couple things that I do. I think the biggest things for me are definitely things that I grew up doing. Really just trying to to tophand, bottomhand. Trying to stay with that same routine every single day. Really knowing what pitch I want to see in what count. Really trying to understand that if the umpire calls a strike, it's already a strike, so why are you even mad? What's the point of getting mad or asking him 'hey, where do you got that?' Or whatever. Just try to know where your pitches are and what you want to do, how you want to establish your strike zone. Just go from there. I really try to stay within my approach. Growing up I used to hit bottlecaps and beans and stuff like that. A couple of guys do that as well still, and I do it. I do that a couple times a week before the games and just go from there."

Zimmermann returns with Tigers - The Nationals will aim to rebound from their sweep to the Cubs against the Tigers, whom they host for three games at Nats Park to begin the week. That means former Nats star Jordan Zimmermann will return to town for the first time since signing away with Detroit in free agency. Zimmermann, in fact, will face the Nationals on Wednesday in the series finale. And, ironically, he will go up against Max Scherzer, who left the Tigers to sign a free agent deal with the Nats two offseasons ago. This is the first time both players will pitch against their former clubs.

This matchup is also coming at an interesting time for both pitchers. Zimmermann is on fire, boasting the best ERA in baseball at 1.10. He's 5-1 through six starts. Scherzer, on other hand, is off to a rough start this season with a 4.60 ERA through seven outings. Both pitchers are trending in opposite directions at the moment.

Nats attendance down, but could get a boost - The Nationals have ranked in the top half of baseball four straight seasons in average home attendance, but this year they place 20th after one month of play. Why is that? Well, for one, they haven't played anyone all that exciting in Washington yet. The Nats have hosted the Marlins, Braves, Twins and Phillies. That could change soon with the Detroit Tigers coming to town and later this month they will host the Mets and Cardinals.

For the Tigers, Wednesday is the big game to watch. Not only is it Scherzer vs. Zimmermann and Zimmermann's return and all that, it's Bryce Harper bobblehead day. People go crazy for those and it could help attract one of the biggest home crowds of the season.

NL East Standings

Offensive game of the week: Daniel Murphy 5/4 vs. Royals - 4-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2B

Pitching line of the week: Tanner Roark 5/8 vs. Cubs - 6.0 IP, 0 ER, R, 4 H, 7 SO, 2 BB, 110 pitches (65 strikes)

Quote of the Week 

"I chased some bad pitches against [John] Lackey the other day -- he's very deceptive with his stuff. If I don't swing the bat at all this series, I walk 16 times."

- Harper on the Cubs series to

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road Ahead

Mon. – 7:00 p.m. vs. Detroit Tigers (Strasburg vs. Sanchez)
Tue. - 7:05 p.m. vs. Detroit Tigers (Ross vs. Fulmer)
Wed. – 7:05 p.m. vs. Detroit Tigers (Scherzer vs. Zimmermann)
Thu. – OFF
Fri. – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Gonzalez vs. Koehler)
Sat. – 1:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Roark vs. Nicolino)
          7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (TBD vs. Fernandez)
Sun. – 1:35 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Strasburg vs. Conley)

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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.