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Nats set to face inconsistent Wainwright

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Nats set to face inconsistent Wainwright

With 2012 Cy Young candidate Kyle Lohse having pitched in the N.L. Wild Card game, the St. Louis Cardinals will trot out right-hander Adam Wainwright against the Nationals in Game 1 of the NLDS. Wainwright was once one of the games best young pitchers, but returned this season from Tommy John surgery and has yet to regain his form as an ace.

Wainwright missed all of the 2011 season due to the surgery and watched from the dugout as the Cardinals won the World Series without him. He had finished in the top three of National League Cy Young voting in the previous two seasons and their victory without him was a testament to their organizational depth.

Wainwright finished 2012 with a winning record and a sub-4.00 ERA despite struggling for much of the year. The Cardinals showed great patience in sticking with him after a terrible start to the season. Wainwright allowed at least four earned runs in four of his first seven starts and sat 2-4 with a 6.16 ERA on May 12.

The 31-year-old saved his season by going 7-3 with a 2.75 ERA through July and August. Still, over the course of this season he has shown he isnt the same dominant pitcher he once was.

The differences in the old Wainwright and the new one lie in pitch selection. Wainwright has adjusted to throw more off-speed pitches after a slight dip in velocity with a career low fastball usage at 41.8.

Wainwright uses a cut fastball now much more than he did in the past, throwing it 14.2 of the time. His primary breaking ball is the curveball, which he uses for almost a quarter of pitches.

In 2012, when Wainwright won he was dominant and when he lost it was at times ugly. In losses this season Wainwright allowed 56 earned runs in 69.0 innings, good for a 7.30 ERA. In games he won Wainwright held a 1.94 ERA with just 13 walks in 97.2 innings pitched.

Wainwrights two starts against the Nationals in many ways exemplified his season as one was great and one was quite the opposite.

On August 31 the Nationals handed Wainwright one of his worst starts of the season and it came in the middle of perhaps his hottest stretch. Wainwright had allowed two runs or less in eight consecutive starts before a complete disaster in Washington. The Nationals dropped six runs in 2 23 innings before Wainwright was yanked as he earned his 11th loss of the season in a 10-0 blowout at Nationals Park.

Wainwright rebounded nicely against the Nationals at Busch Stadium in his final start of the season. He worked six innings of one run ball and set the Cardinals up for an eventual 12-2 victory. The right-hander allowed just six men on base in his 14th win of the season.

His solid showing against the Nationals was a nice close to his regular season after a rough month of September overall. Wainwright had allowed at least four earned runs in three of his previous five starts.

The Nationals will face Wainwright where he had his best start against them and where he fared better for much of the season. Wainwright went 10-6 with a 3.73 ERA in St. Louis, markedly better than his 4-7, 4.20 line on the road.

One thing that may work in the Nationals favor is the fact that Wainwright hasnt pitched since seeing them on the 28th. He was much better this season on four or five days of rest as with at least six days off between starts he posted a 5.21 ERA in three games.

Wainwright missed the postseason last year, but has appeared in ten playoff games in his career. He has one career postseason start, an eight-inning outing against the Dodgers in the 2009 NLDS. Wainwright allowed just one earned run on a homer to Andre Ethier in the game, but the Dodgers ended up winning in the second game of their three game sweep.

The Nationals have had mixed results against Wainwright this year, but the pitcher may have the advantage at home if his 2012 stats hold up. But looking at how inconsistent he has been overall, they may know early which Wainwright has shown up for Game 1.

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How's the knee? Trent Williams looks beyond ready in workout videos

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USA TODAY Sports

How's the knee? Trent Williams looks beyond ready in workout videos

Trent Williams went under the knife for his first-ever knee surgery about seven months ago.

Plenty of Redskins fans worried that the Pro Bowl left tackle might not be ready to go when the 2018 season starts.

Worry no more. 

Yes, that is Williams working out with veteran running back Adrian Peterson. And by the looks of it, Williams' knee looks just fine. 

Williams tore his right patella tendon last fall, but continued to play through the pain while the Redskins chances of a playoff bid remained. Once that window got firmly closed after an ugly Thursday night loss in Dallas, Williams contemplated sitting out, but other injuries on the line had already decimated the Redskins. Eventually, Williams shut down his season after a blowout loss in Los Angeles to open December. 

This offseason, Williams got the knee repaired. Washington coach Jay Gruden said repeatedly during the offseason that he expected Williams ready to go for training camp, and the workout videos suggest that to be the case.

This is great news for the Redskins offense, and for new quarterback Alex Smith. Expect Washington to be cautious with Williams, particularly in the early going of training camp in Richmond, but like Trent tweeted, "the walk says it all."

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What to eat at the 2018 MLB All-Star FanFest

What to eat at the 2018 MLB All-Star FanFest

Before we begin, let's make one thing clear: if you're going to the MLB All-Star Game FanFest to eat, you're already doing something wrong.

There isn't really any good food there, but there are some interesting options. You can, of course, get a bunch of fried food and traditional ballpark fare. But you also have some more intriguing options, if you're feeling adventurous.

You could get what one concession stand claims to be an "Old City Style Philly Cheese Steak," some jerk chicken, various subs or even sushi, among other things.

But you're in D.C. for the day, and you only want to spend $40 on lunch for you and your date so you can still go out for what's sure to be an overpriced dinner.

The safest bet is to go to the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog stand and grab a pair of hot dogs for $7 each. There's a reason Joey Chestnut can eat 74 of these babies in 10 minutes. Having only spent $14 on your main course, you've still got money left over for drinks and a desert.

If you're over 21, there's a whole corner of the convention hall set up with a selection of adult beverages ranging between $6 and $7. If you're not, there's some fresh-squeezed lemonade at a nearby stand for only $5 — unless you want a large, that's $8.

Whatever you choose, it's time to head to the Dippin' Dots stand for dessert. They don't call it the ice cream of the future for nothing. This $6, five-ounce cup of ice cream pellets (it's better than it sounds) will soak up the rest of your lunch budget.

Riskier (and also more expensive) options include a $12 jerk, pineapple or curry chicken bowl or a variety of rice bowls from Hanaro Sushi for $15 apiece. Either of these choices will likely eliminate dessert from your meal, but who really wants dessert with lunch anyway?

When all is said and done, you're probably not getting a gourmet meal out of this experience, but you can at least enjoy a not-bad meal while you explore some of the interesting things about baseball.