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Washington Nationals Roundup: Juan Soto sits again due to back spasms

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Juan Soto sits again due to back spasms

The Nationals snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Cardinals Thursday night before heading off on a crucial 10-game road trip, which starts Friday in Philadelphia against the rival Phillies. 

Here's the latest Nationals, Cardinals and Phillies news:

Player Notes: 

NATIONALS:

Stephen Strasburg pitched 6 2/3 dominant innings Thursday night, allowing just one run on six hits and striking out nine. Strasburg also made some history in the win, becoming the fastest pitcher in MLB history to reach 1,500 career strikeouts. 

Howie Kendrick singled twice and scored on a throwing error in the fourth inning, continuing his solid start to the season.

Sean Doolittle notched his fourth save of the season, getting four outs to finish off a gutsy win for the Nats. He's now struck out 19 batters over 14 1/3 innings, and has an ERA of 1.23.  

After the game, general manager Mike Rizzo announced the team had let go of pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, replacing him with Paul Menhart. Rizzo cited "preparation issues" as a reason for the change. 

Juan Soto missed his second straight game Thursday due to back spasms. Soto was originally in Thursday's lineup, but was scratched before first pitch. Soto also underwent an MRI, which came back clean. 

Trea Turner could start swinging a bat before the end of this week as he continues his rehab from a fractured finger. Manager Davey Martinez told reporters Turner's recovery is ahead of schedule.

CARDINALS:

RHP Dakota Hudson surrendered two runs on four hits in six innings of work Thursday, but went down as the losing pitcher as the Cardinals offense mustered just one run. 

SS Yairo Munoz went 3-for-4 and scored St. Louis' only run of the game, but also committed a costly error which led to a Washington run in the fourth inning. 3B Jedd Gyorko chipped in with two hits and a stolen base in the losing effort. 

St. Louis left a quarter of regulars out of the starting lineup Thursday: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, SS Paul DeJong, C Yadier Molina and OF Jose Martinez. They all eventually entered the game, however: Goldschmidt, DeJong and Martinez as pinch-hitters, while Molina replaced Matt Wieters at catcher in the eighth inning. 

PHILLIES:

Philadelphia had Thursday off as they prepare to host the Nats for a three-game set this weekend. 

Injuries:

OF Juan Soto: Back, Day-to-day

3B Anthony Rendon: Elbow, 10-Day IL

1B Ryan Zimmerman: Plantar Fasciitis, 10-Day IL

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-day IL

RP Trevor Rosenthal: Flu, 10-day IL

SS Trea Turner: Finger, 10-day IL

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 10-day IL

Coming Up:

Friday, 5/3: Nationals @ Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET, Citizens Bank Park

Saturday, 5/4: Nationals @ Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET, Citizens Bank Park

Sunday, 5/5: Nationals @ Phillies, 2:05 p.m. ET, Citizens Bank Park

Source: Rotoworld

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Stephen Strasburg’s dominance enough for a tight Nationals win

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Stephen Strasburg’s dominance enough for a tight Nationals win

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-1, Thursday to raise their record to 13-17. Here are five observations from the game…

1. Narrow is enough, especially when the season is taking on water.

Following a 2:32 rain delay, the Nationals pulled together two runs and survived two late-inning scares. It wasn’t simple or gentle, but when has it been this season?

It was, and will remain, a win. The Nationals needed one to stall their slide before going on the road for a week. That journey starts Friday in Philadelphia and ends May 12 in Los Angeles.

St. Louis was generous before the game began. Several regulars were given the day off because the Cardinals entered the afternoon 10 games over .500, winners of five in a row and 10 of 11 -- not to mention their first three in Washington. Friday, they play a day game in Wrigley Field. Perfect timing for a break.

Struggling Matt Carpenter (.202 coming into the night) was moved into the No. 3 spot. Three of the bottom four spots were occupied by backups. The pitcher, Dakota Hudson (5.63 ERA), hit after them.

Stephen Strasburg capitalized on the ensemble. His fifth-inning strikeout of Hudson was the 1,500th of his career and made Strasburg the fastest to that mark in the fewest innings (1,272 ⅓ innings). His final line: 6 ⅔ innings, six hits, one earned run, two walks, nine strikeouts.

Together with extended work from Sean Doolittle, and two runs in the fourth inning because of a Yan Gomes single and Brian Dozier reaching on a fielder’s choice, it was enough. Barely.

2. Strasburg stuck with the heavy curveball usage of his recent outings. He threw 35 more Thursday night out of 108 pitches.

Strasburg came into the game with a severe uptick in curveballs thrown this season. He’s throwing it 27.2 percent of the time -- more often than he has thrown any off-speed pitch in a single season of his career. From 2011-15, Strasburg threw fastballs at least 60 percent of the time. Age, injuries and adjustments have forced him to look elsewhere as his velocity dropped.

The curveball has become an answer for him this season. He previously went through a period of high slider usage until he thought frequent use of the pitch led to a forearm injury. His changeup has always been a potent off-speed and strikeout pitch. He’s just turned to his curveball more often.

Also happening this season: Strasburg is throwing his lowest frequency of fastballs. For the third consecutive season, his average velocity has dropped. Thursday, he reached 95 mph multiple times, averaging 93.6 mph on fastballs for the night.

3. Juan Soto was removed from the lineup just before the scheduled game time Thursday because of back spasms. The same issue kept Soto out of the lineup Wednesday, but the Nationals thought it was a one-off situation.

“[Wednesday] he took swings in the cage before the game and bent over and locked up so when you’re 20 [years old] in the spot that he had, you’re right away thinking oblique,” Dave Martinez said. “So we want to be careful.”

At that point, Martinez said Soto would be in the lineup Thursday. But, an hour before first pitch was slated to happen, a new lineup without Soto was released. It replicated Wednesday’s outfield adjustments without Soto: Michael A. Taylor to center field, Victor Robles over to right and Adam Eaton in left.

4. Signs of movement for Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner.

Rendon popped out of the dugout Thursday to do sprints and other cardiovascular activities in right field. He had a long black compression sleeve on his left arm. Rendon is trying to heal a bruise from a Jose Urena pitch which hit him April 20 in Miami.

Trea Turner grabbed his gear out of his locker -- including a bat -- and headed off to do his work. The key update for Turner is he may be in a place to take swings as soon as this week.

5. Moving parts outside the stadium reside in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Pa.

Trevor Rosenthal threw a bullpen session since arriving in Florida on Tuesday and is in a long-toss routine.

“We're going to take it step by step,” Martinez said. “They put him on a pretty good plan, we're going to stick to that plan and see where he's at.”

Reliever Austen Williams (sprained right AC joint) threw 40 pitches this week at extended spring training. He was placed on the disabled list April 19, retroactive to April 18. Martinez said Williams threw “really well.”

“Trying to build him up, get him strong,” Martinez said. “We'll see how he feels and go from there.”

And, at Double-A Harrisburg, Erick Fedde waits to hear whether he will start Friday or come out of the bullpen. The Nationals are considering making Fedde a reliever temporarily. That decision will be made Thursday night.

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Max Scherzer suffers fourth loss of season

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Max Scherzer suffers fourth loss of season

The Nationals fell to the Cardinals 5-1 Wednesday night, their third straight loss. 

Here's the latest Nationals and Cardinals news:

Player Notes: 

NATIONALS:

Max Scherzer's record dropped to 1-4 Wednesday after allowing three first inning runs to the Cardinals. Scherzer pitched well after the rocky opening frame, going seven innings and striking out eight, but with the offense only able to muster a single run, Washington's ace was the pitcher of record. 

Both Juan Soto and Brian Dozier were left out of the lineup for Wednesday night's game, Soto due to back spasms and Dozier simply given the day off after going 0-4 in Tuesday night's loss. Soto will be reevaluated Thursday, manager Davey Martinez told reporters.

CARDINALS:

Starting pitcher Miles Mikolas improved to 3-2 Wednesday after pitching six innings of one-run ball against the Nats to earn the win. The 30-year old allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out four. 

RF Jose Martinez continued his torrid start to the season Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and two RBI. LF Marcell Ozuna chipped in with three hits, including two doubles, scoring two runs and driving in another.

OF Dexter Fowler once again was left out of the lineup Wednesday as he continued his battle with the flu. 

Injuries:

OF Juan Soto: Back, Day-to-day

3B Anthony Rendon: Elbow, 10-Day IL

1B Ryan Zimmerman: Plantar Fasciitis, 10-Day IL

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-day IL

RP Trevor Rosenthal: Flu, 10-day IL

SS Trea Turner: Finger, 10-day IL

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 10-day IL

Coming Up:

Thursday, 5/2: Cardinals @ Nationals, 4:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Friday, 5/3: Nationals @ Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET, Citizens Bank Park

Saturday, 5/4: Nationals @ Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET, Citizens Bank Park

Source: Rotoworld

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