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Strasburg keeps leading the charge for Nats rotation

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Strasburg keeps leading the charge for Nats rotation

Stephen Strasburg has quite easily been the Nationals' best pitcher over the last few weeks since he returned from the disabled list on Aug. 8, and that trend continued in Tuesday night's win over the San Diego Padres.

The Nationals right-hander overcame a second-inning home run by Jedd Gyorko to go six strong innings of two-run ball with one walk and seven strikeouts. The Gyorko homer and Yonder Alonso single right before it were the only two hits Strasburg allowed all night.

Strasburg has made four starts since he's been back with the Nats and in each he's lasted at least six innings and given up two runs or less. He has walked just three batters during that stretch to go along with 32 strikeouts.

While the rest of the Nats' rotation has battled inconsistencies in the month of August, Strasburg has been as reliable as ever. He has a 1.73 ERA this month, while the other starters sit at 5.13.

That 5.13 number is not far off from the 5.16 ERA Strasburg himself had in his 13 starts this season before August. Clearly there is a difference in the results, but exactly why that is depends on who you ask.

"No difference," Strasburg said. "I'm just going out there with the same game play and trying to focus on hitting my spots and using all my pitches."

Okay, let's try Matt Williams' take:

"Health. Health is a big key. If he feels good when he's out there then he's able to let it go. I don't know how many balls he threw that were 98 miles per hour tonight, but quite a few of them. He sat 95 to 97. That just means he feels good. We're happy to have him take the mound for us."

Catcher Wilson Ramos echoed that sentiment.

"He's more aggressive right now. When he came back from DL, he's being aggressive, he's pitching more good. His velo is back, you know 98 miles per hour fastball, so he attack the hitter really well," he said.

Strasburg, in fact, averaged 96.8 miles per hour with his fastball on Tuesday night, the highest for him since June 2, 2012 in a start against the Braves when he sat around 97.3. Early this season when he was battling minor injuries and working through mechanical issues, Strasburg was closer to 94 on his fastball. Now he is sitting consistently around 96 and touching 98 and 99 with more frequency.

With his fastball velocity up, Strasburg is also keeping it down in the zone with impressive control.

"I thought the fastball down command was good tonight," Williams said. "He threw a lot of balls down in the strike zone, a lot of fastballs. When he does that, breaking balls open for him. Changeups open for him."

There is no question Strasburg is locked in. His last four outings have come against the Padres, who are eighth in baseball in runs scored in August, the Rockies (twice) and the Giants. This season the Rockies and Giants are second and third in NL run production, respectively.

Strasburg is pitching his best at an opportune time for the Nats with the season nearing its home stretch. Now it's time for his rotation mates to follow suit.

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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