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Washington Nationals Roundup: Nats' bullpen squanders a stellar outing from Stephen Strasburg

Washington Nationals Roundup: Nats' bullpen squanders a stellar outing from Stephen Strasburg

Check out the latest news and notes surrounding the Washington Nationals. 

Player Notes: 

SP Stephen Strasburg tossed seven shutout frames but had to settle for a no-decision Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The Pirates couldn't get anything going off of Strasburg, who permitted only four singles and one walk while fanning six batters. He had thrown just 94 pitches through his seven superb frames, but manager Dave Martinez decided that was enough. Naturally, the bullpen then melted down. Strasburg had been a little shaky in August coming into this one, so this effort was nice to see even though he wasn't able to get a win. He will take on the Cubs at Wrigley on Sunday.

RP Daniel Hudson was charged with a blown save in Tuesday's loss to the Pirates. Hudson inherited a bases-loaded, no-out jam from Wander Suero in the eighth inning and first allowed a game-tying sac fly. Then the big blow came with Starling Marte launching a three-run homer. Hudson has pitched well overall since joining the Nationals and should still be in the mix for saves while Sean Doolittle (knee) is out, although manager Dave Martinez has promised a committee approach.

3B Anthony Rendon reached base in all four of his plate appearances in Tuesday's loss to the Pirates. The Nationals' offense has been on a roll, but they were quiet in this one even after starter Chris Archer departed after one inning with an injury. Rendon was the exception, though, doubling, singling twice, walking and adding his third stolen base of the season. He's hitting .322/.400/.608.

RP Hunter Strickland has a broken nose but will be available out of the Nationals' bullpen Tuesday versus the Pirates. Strickland suffered the nasal fracture in a weightlifting accident on Tuesday afternoon in Pittsburgh. He has been cleared to pitch through the injury and may be first in line for saves right now in the Nationals' bullpen with Sean Doolittle (knee) sitting on the injured list.

Injuries: 

RP Hunter Strickland: Nose, day-to-day

2B Brian Dozier: Paternity, day-to-day

RP Joe Ross: Leg, day-to-day

RP Sean Doolittle: Knee, out indefinitely 

RP Roenis Elias: Hamstring, late August

RP Jonny Venters: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, August 22

1B Ryan Zimmerman: Foot, late August

SP Austin Roth: Shoulder, late August

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, out indefinitely 

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

Coming Up:

Wednesday 8/21: Nationals @ Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park

Thursday 8/22:  Nationals @ Pirates, 7:05p.m., PNC Park

Friday 8/23: Nationals @ Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field

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Source: Rotoworld

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Max Scherzer, Nationals undone by little things in St. Louis

Max Scherzer, Nationals undone by little things in St. Louis

Wednesday’s question around Max Scherzer centered on which version of the right-hander would do the pitching. Would it be the one from two starts ago who looked like the pitcher everyone was so accustomed to seeing? Or the one from his last start, less sharp, fastball a tick down in velocity and life?

Scherzer threw a first-pitch, 95-mph fastball Wednesday. He was loose and sharp. His outing also probably handed the Cy Young Award to New York’s Jacob deGrom.

The issues were less his doing than his teammates. Scherzer’s final line, 6 ⅔ innings, seven hits, five earned runs, 11 strikeouts, no walks, bumped his ERA to 2.81. But, Juan Soto lost a fly ball in the sun which otherwise would have ended the seventh inning. Catch it, and here’s Scherzer’s line: seven innings pitched, five hits -- two of which were bloops -- two earned runs, no walks, 11 strikeouts. Scherzer would be directly responsible for not throwing a cutter in far enough against wonder boy Tommy Edman, who hit it for a home run in the third inning. Otherwise, stellar.

Instead, a single drove in a run after the Soto mistake. A Matt Wieters pinch-hit two-run homer drove Scherzer out of the game following the single. Hence, the bloated line in a high-profile game. The rise in ERA, the loss, the box score telling a partial fib, all those things strongly enhance what was already a strong case for deGrom. Scherzer could never makeup the workload gap in the race, but could hang around or lead in all the peripherals. Wednesday’s outing made that much more difficult. 

The Nationals also never found a way to a damn-busting hit. Asdrúbal Cabrera’s deep fly ball to right field was prevented from going over the fence by a leaping Dexter Fowler, a would-be three-run homer turned into another sigh against St. Louis. The Cardinals made plays, Washington did not. St. Louis wins two of three in a series against Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Scherzer as a result.

Washington holds a one-game lead for the top wild-card spot before play begins Wednesday night. Chicago hosts Cincinnati. Milwaukee hosts San Diego. Things are tight.

The Nationals don’t play Thursday. A three-game weekend series begins in Miami on Friday. A sweep resets Washington’s season. It would also make it 16-3 against Miami this year. Anyting less? Not great.

Washington will have a slight advantage -- in theory -- going forward because it has the dual benefit of a lead (however small) as well as a game in hand on Chicago and Milwaukee. Who will pitch that extra game? Joe Ross is injured. The recent rotation shuffling for the weekend -- Aníbal Sánchez on Friday, Strasburg on Saturday and Austin Voth bumped to Sunday -- means Erick Fedde or Jeremy Hellickson would handle the day game Tuesday in Nationals Park. 

The Nationals are 6-10 in the last two-plus weeks. They haven’t lost their postseason spot --yet. However, it’s slipping, tenuous and in doubt, and Wednesday afternoon didn’t help.

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Dexter Fowler jumps, stretches out, robs Nationals of three runs

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Dexter Fowler jumps, stretches out, robs Nationals of three runs

The Nationals trailed the Cardinals 5-1 in the top of the eighth on Wednesday in St. Louis. 

But after Anthony Rendon walked and Howie Kendrick singled, Asdrubal Cabrera stepped to the plate with one out and a chance to cut St. Louis' lead to one run. 

With a 3-2 count, Cabrera roped an 82 mph slider to right field, and Nationals fans had a moment to rejoice as the ball's trajectory was clearly that of a home run. 

Enter: Dexter Fowler. 

The Cardinals' right fielder made a quick dash to the wall and leapt, stretching his 6-foot-5 frame to rob Cabrera of the possible three-run longball. 

And thus, Washington headed to the bottom of the inning still trailing 5-1, in serious need of a ninth-inning rally. 

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