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Nationals broadcaster F.P Santangelo: Team never panicked in slow start

Nationals broadcaster F.P Santangelo: Team never panicked in slow start

The Washington Nationals early start may have had fans and pundits writing off the team for the season, but no one inside the Nationals organization was panicking, said one insider. 

“I know there was a while there where everybody wanted Davey gone and people were questioning Mike," Nationals broadcaster F.P. Santangelo said on The Sports Junkies Monday, "but they were the calming forces in all this."

From bullpen woes to injuries, the Nationals had a rough start to their season and then suddenly, as if it had never happened, they turned it around.

“We were all scratching our heads like what in the world is going on? This team is way too good to be doing this and it was happening nightly,” Santangelo said.

As pressure mounted on the team to keep winning, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo reiterated time and time again during his Wednesday morning spot on The Sports Junkies that their goal was to play good baseball and to not worry about wins or losses, which Santangelo echoed.

"They were calm the whole time," Santangelo said. "They had veteran presence in the clubhouse and nobody panicked."

Suddenly, with a 12-10 win over the Miami Marlins on May 24, the Nats turned it around. Rizzo and the Lerners made the decision to cut their losses on Trevor Rosenthal's contract, the bullpen started to pitch well and adjustments were made accordingly, says Santangelo.

The Nationals open their two-game series against the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.

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Mike Rizzo says Davey Martinez is 'doing well' following procedure on heart

Mike Rizzo says Davey Martinez is 'doing well' following procedure on heart

Nationals manager Davey Martinez is on the mend after remaining in Washington following a cardiac catheterization procedure, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told the Sports Junkies on Wednesday.

“Yesterday he was home, he had much more energy than the day before when I spoke to him and I think he’s resting comfortably and doing well," Rizzo said.

In the interim, bench coach Chip Hale has taken over as manager in Martinez's absence during the Nats' series against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Rizzo said Hale and Martinez are in "constant contact" leading up to games and Martinez texts Hale the lineup and they discuss strategy prior to the first pitch.

“We miss Davey's presence and energy and enthusiasm and the players really miss him," Rizzo said. "But until he gets back, this team is under great care and great baseball people.”

Rizzo said Martinez's doctors need to clear him to travel and once they do, he will be rejoining the team.

“The doctors tell me that when he does join the team that he’ll have no limitations and he should be fine," Rizzo said.

The Nationals conclude their series against the Cardinals Wednesday at 1:15 p.m.

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Patrick Corbin helps the Nationals, so does Sonny Gray

Patrick Corbin helps the Nationals, so does Sonny Gray

The night set up well.

Patrick Corbin was on the mound for the Nationals. Chris Paddack was throwing for San Diego against Milwaukee. Sonny Gray opposed the Chicago Cubs. Good teams deploy a decent starter almost every night. Bad teams have a good starter ready once or twice a week. So, while the Nationals again wrestled with St. Louis, they received some help from the rotations employed elsewhere by poor teams playing the main wild-card competition.

Corbin made sure Washington handled what it could control in St. Louis. He hung in for six innings on 110 pitches, allowing just an earned run and striking out 11. He also walked four -- two of which were ex-teammate Paul Goldschmidt, the lone St. Louis hitter appearing capable of identifying Corbin’s slider. Fernando Rodney pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning. Well-rested Daniel Hudson finished the game along. Chip Hale again managed in place of the recuperating Davey Martinez.

Corbin’s ERA is 3.10. His WHIP is 1.16. He’s made 31 starts. Why did the Nationals give him an extra contract year? Why did they offer more money? This is precisely why. Stabilization exists in the middle of their rotation because of the $140 million allotted to Corbin. And, he may even have a case to start the Wild-Card Game, depending on the opponent and whether the Nationals get there. Corbin’s argument to take the mound would be solid. Washington reaching the game remains an embattled proposition.

Paddack pitched well against Milwaukee, where he was restricted to just 84 pitches to close his rookie year. However, the San Diego bullpen blew the game in the eighth inning. So, Milwaukee keeps rolling, winning a bullpen game which featured a mid-section with three scoreless innings from old friend Gio Gonzalez. The Brewers have won nine of 10, 11 of 12, 14 of 17. They are two games behind St. Louis for the National League Central Division lead.

Which makes Wednesday’s day game between two grizzled right-handers not just about the Nationals pushing back current wild-card opponents, but also a possible future one. Max Scherzer will pitch for Washington against Adam Wainwright. They have combined for 734 regular-season starts. Wednesday will rank among their important ones.

San Diego’s bullpen did not hold up Tuesday. Cincinnati’s did. Gray went 6 ⅔ innings, struck out nine and positioned the Reds for a win. They haven’t put together a winning month since May. September is steeped in the same mediocrity: Cincinnati was 7-9 in the month entering Tuesday. But, it held on to beat the Cubs. Which meant Milwaukee jumped into a dead heat with Chicago. Each has 11 games to play.

Interesting about the Nationals' schedule is they have a game-in-hand on both Chicago and Milwaukee thanks to the packed final-week schedule. The June 17 postponement between Washington and Philadelphia could have an enormous impact on which teams make the postseason.

Tuesday, Corbin delivered the most impact. Howie Kendrick backed him with more 35-year-old offense. Paddack tried to slow the Brewers. Gray did handle the Cubs. All of which kept the Nationals atop the wild-card standings with a 1 ½-game lead -- for now.

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