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Zimmerman has big night, but bullpen shows fatigue in Nats' win

Zimmerman has big night, but bullpen shows fatigue in Nats' win

Notes and observations from the Nats' 11-9 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night at Turner Field:

Zimmerman's big return: Dusty Baker told reporters Saturday that he wanted Ryan Zimmerman to treat his return from the disabled list as a fresh start to his season. On the first pitch the 31-year-old saw, he did just that. Zimmerman launched a solo home run in the second inning against the Braves, the first of three hits on the night in his first game back after being out with a left wrist contusion.   

The veteran first baseman certainly wasn’t the only one to have a big night offensively. After all, the Nats put up 11 runs on the scoreboard. But there is something particularly uplifting about seeing a resurgent Zimmerman, who lest we forget was the lineup’s cleanup hitter earlier in the season. At this point in the year, the Nats don’t necessarily need him to perform up to his career average numbers; the offense has plenty of bats to help carry the load. However, if he can add some additional pop to an already explosive bunch, this could be one of the scariest lineups to face in October.

Bullpen tiring: Nats relievers are starting to look like a group pitching in the midst of a 20-game stretch without an off day. The last two nights in particular, Washington has seen a 5-0 sixth-inning lead evaporate and a 10-3 seventh-inning advantage somehow turn into a save situation for closer Mark Melancon in the ninth.  

Luckily for the Nats, neither close call cost resulted in a loss. That said, they will go into Sunday afternoon’s tilt with a number of tired arms to look after. Matt Belisle, Koda Glover and Blake Treinen have each pitched in back-to-back games, so it’s up to Gio Gonzalez to go deep in his next start to keep some of the relievers fresh.

Unfortunately, the Nats still have 11 games left in this rough patch. And aside from winning, it’s clear Baker's top pririty is to get his team through it without wearing the players out. 

Can anyone slow down Turner?  You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but it’s probably what other teams are thinking about Trea Turner these days he continues to tear it up. The 23-year-old speedster only notched one hit on Saturday night, but it just so happened to be a three-run shot in the fourth inning that seemingly put the game out of reach. 

Of all of Turner’s impressive traits, perhaps the most surprising is his sneaky power. Sure, he only has four long balls on the season, which doesn’t seem like much, but he’s only played in 33 games. If you extrapolate his numbers out over an entire season, you’re talking about 18 home runs, 36 doubles and 27 triples. If he were to amass a season like that, he’d be the first to major league history accomplish it. Add in his knack for stealing bases, and the Nats might possibly have the most dynamic leadoff man in the game at the moment.

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm
 

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?

RELATED: 2018 SPRING TRAINING REPORT DATES

Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE