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Which Nats deserve to be All-Stars?

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Which Nats deserve to be All-Stars?

Fan voting for the 83rd All-Star Game officially came to an end at midnight, so if you were planning a last-minute ballot-stuffing barrage in support of the Nationals, you're too late.

Not that it was likely to do much good. The chance of any position player getting voted in as an All-Star starter is miniscule, considering none of the eight guys on the ballot (Wilson Ramos, Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Rick Ankiel, Jayson Werth) ranked even in the top five at his position when the most recent totals were announced Tuesday.

That doesn't, however, mean the Nationals won't be well-represented 11 days from now when Kansas City hosts the midsummer classic. Quite the contrary, they're poised to send multiple players to the game for the first time since 2005 and perhaps even send more than two players for the first time since the franchise arrived in town. Those selections will just have to come from fellow player balloting or the selection of National League manager Tony La Russa.

Rosters will officially be announced Sunday afternoon, so there's not much wrangling or posturing left to do. With that in mind, let's run through the Nationals' candidates and put some odds on their eventual All-Star selections. (And be sure to cast your own votes in the Nats Insider poll. You may vote for more than one player.)...

STEPHEN STRASBURG
The case for: He's tied for ninth in the NL in ERA (2.60), tied for fifth in wins (nine) and leads the majors in strikeouts (118). Plus, he'd be a big-time draw as a first-time All-Star.
The case against: Not much of one, but perhaps his lack of innings (he's averaging only six per start) could turn a few people off.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 90 percent

GIO GONZALEZ
The case for: He's tied for second in the NL in wins (10), is second only to Strasburg in strikeouts (108) and is sixth in hits allowed per nine innings (6.25). An All-Star last season with the Athletics, he's already well-respected around the game and has raised his profile even more this year.
The case against: He isn't exactly closing out the first half of the season in top form. After winning NL Pitcher of the Month honors in May, he's 3-2 with a 4.34 ERA in June.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 75 percent

IAN DESMOND
The case for: He's second among all MLB shortstops in home runs (13), RBI (41) and slugging percentage (.485) and is first in extra-base hits (37). And he's played sparkling defense, ranking fourth among NL shortstops in UZR150 (7.8).
The case against: Desmond's .276 batting average isn't anything spectacular, and his .304 on-base percentage is not good at all.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 50 percent

BRYCE HARPER
The case for: He's taken the baseball world by storm at the tender age of 19. He's on pace to hit more homers (20) than any teenager other than Tony Conigliaro, and produce an OPS (.850) higher than any teenager other than Conigliaro and Mel Ott.
The case against: After a hot start, he's cooled off in the last two weeks, hitting only .220. And at age 19, with only two months of big-league service time, he hasn't quite established himself as being worthy of standing alongside the game's very best.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 30 percent

ADAM LaROCHE
The case for: Leads all NL first basemen with 15 homers and 48 RBI while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.
The case against: Though he's continued to hit for power, he's otherwise been in a prolonged slump at the plate, hitting just .167 over his last 35 games.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 25 percent

TYLER CLIPPARDThe case for: He's the only reliever in the majors with at least 10 saves and 10 holds. He's a perfect 12-for-12 in save opportunities since taking over as closer, surrendering one total hit during that span. An All-Star last season, he's already recognized as one of the game's best relievers.
The case against: Because he didn't take over as closer until late-May, he hasn't compiled nearly as many saves as the league leaders. Because he was an All-Star last season as a set-up man, some might believe he doesn't need to be recognized again.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 20 percent

SEAN BURNETTThe case for: He's got a 1.71 ERA and 0.987 WHIP while stranding 73 percent of inherited runners this season.
The case against: For a non-closer to get the nod, he's got to have overwhelming stats. His stats are very good, but probably not overwhelming.
Odds of being named an All-Star: 10 percent

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT