WASHINGTON -- More injuries, more moves.
Right-handed reliever Justin Miller was placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday because of a rotator cuff strain. Taking his place in the maligned Washington bullpen is Tanner Rainey, who arrived Saturday from Fresno.
Rainey arrived in the offseason as the other side of the Tanner Roark trade, which is playing out as a mistake. Roark has a 129 ERA-plus this season. Jeremy Hellickson and Anibal Sanchez are at 74 and 87, respectively. The trade was largely a cost-cutting move. Roark makes $10 million this season. Hellickson and Sanchez makes $9.3 million in base salary combined.
Rainey throws hard. He also has command issues.
Rainey threw 18 innings for Triple-A Fresno this year. He walked 12 and struck out 32. Rainey’s ERA was 4.00. He pitched seven major-league innings in 2018 for Cincinnati, allowed four home runs, walked 12 and earned a 24.43 ERA for the effort.
Why is Rainey here? The Nationals have limited options in the minor leagues. They designated Jimmy Cordero for assignment already this year. They did the same with Austin Adams before trading him. Austen Williams remains on the injured list. Kyle McGowin, now the long man in the bullpen because Erick Fedde has entered the rotation, was already up. Only Austin Voth, a starter in Triple-A, and James Bourque, a reliever for Double-A Harrisburg, are on the 40-man roster but not in the majors or on the injured list.
Victor Robles was not in the starting lineup Saturday a day after being hit by a pitch on the left wrist. He’s sore and was available to pinch-run. The Nationals are labeling him day-to-day.
Michael A. Taylor took Robles’ spot in the outfield. Adam Eaton returned to the lineup following a day off. Trea Turner remained atop the lineup Saturday despite Eaton’s return.
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Bring out the powder blues!
In the decade and a half since the Nationals franchise relocated from Montreal to Washington, D.C. in 2005, the Nationals have only worn throwback uniforms honoring the Washington Senators, who played in the Nation's Capitol from 1901-1960 before the franchise moved to Minnesota and became the current Minnesota Twins. They have not once worn any Expos throwbacks.
That all changes on July 6, when the Nationals will sport the signature Montreal Expos powder blue uniforms against the Kansas City Royals as the Nationals celebrate the franchise's 50th anniversary, according to the Washington Post.
The uniform features powder blue jerseys and pants, with the tri-color red, white, and blue signature Expos cap.
The Royals will also be donning throwback uniforms from their inaugural 1969 season, taking the field in their original road grey uniforms with a cursive "Kansas City" across their chest in Royal blue.
The Nationals are honoring the Expos in more ways than just sporting their old uniforms. Nationals Park will also be going through a makeover, as the Expos 'M' will replace the Nationals 'Curly W' across the park for the afternoon. Additionally, concessions will offer traditional Canadian food, such as poutine, Montreal smoked brisket sandwiches and more.
Expos legend Vladimir Guerrero will also be in attendance. Other members of the Nationals, such as manager Dave Martinez, third base coach Bob Henley, and MASN broadcaster F.P. Santangelo will be honored for their contributions to the Expos as well.
July 6 should be an exciting day at Nationals Park.
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It's no secret that Max Scherzer has been having the best month of his career. As whispers of a fourth Cy Young begin following his commanding starts this season, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo joined the chorus.
"We're seeing something from a major league pitcher that we’re very fortunate because we get to see this every fifth day and this is historical stuff," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "This is one of the great pitchers of our time and a hall of fame caliber guy and a guy who leaves it on the mound each and every day."
To add to his dominant June, Scherzer allowed only one run and recorded 10 strikeouts over eight innings in the Nationals' 6-1 win over the Miami Marlins Tuesday night.
"He wills himself to win and he wills himself to go the extra inning, the extra pitch," Rizzo said.
Many are calling Scherzer's consistent greatness this month the most dominant time of his career. According to NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas, the only month in his career that comes close to his June 2019 dominance is June 2017, when Scherzer boasted a 0.99 ERA, pitched 36 ⅓ innings, recorded 51 strikeouts, six walks, and a 0.55 WHIP. This June, Scherzer has more strikeouts and a lower ERA.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the league," Rizzo said. "Day in and day out, start in and start out, he gives you an opportunity to win, he gives you his best, he leaves everything on the mound each and every time."
Scherzer has one more start left this month against the Detroit Tigers, the three-day series in Detroit beginning Friday. Until then, Scherzer can rest his arm with two remaining games in the three-game series with the Marlins Wednesday and Thursday at 7:10 p.m.
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