Nationals

Quick Links

'I'm going to fight with them until the end'

'I'm going to fight with them until the end'

After six innings of work on Sunday, the Stephen Strasburg innings count now sits at 156.1 and the expected shutdown range of 160-180 innings is quickly approaching. Neither Strasburg, Mike Rizzo, or Davey Johnson will say exactly when he will be shutdown, but it has been narrowed to his next two starts.

I think two starts. Unless I let him pitch 10 the next one out, which Im not going to. I think his last start will be on the 12th, Johnson said.

Rizzo wasnt quite as specific.

It depends on the same thing its always depended on. When we feel that hes had enough in and around that area of innings, and we take into account all the things weve talked about taking into account, stressful innings, pitches, and that type of thing, then well make that decision and shut him down.

According to Strasburg, he hasnt been talking with management about the subject as much as one might think. He is keeping his approach day-by-day, trying to block everything out. But with the end of his season apparently near, the Nats ace did acknowledge something will have to happen soon.

Im just focused on the next start. Thats all I can really focus on right now. But were going to have to have a sit down and talk here soon, he said.

When asked about sitting down to talk?

Im going to fight with them until the end. Thats all Ive got to say.

It appears what has maybe been delayed by those in D.C. and in the organization, what has been fixated on in the national media, is now finally about to come to its end. It of course isnt an easy decision, and with the competitive nature between the two, it is natural for Strasburg to have his reservations about the move.

Rizzo is confident, however, that two sides will come to an understanding that whatever happens in the future will fall on his shoulders.

I dont think hes going to fight me on it, I think hes going to be unhappy about it, I know hell be unhappy about it. He is an ultimate competitor, but weve taken that out of his hands, he said.

This is a developmental decision and it ultimately falls on the doorstep of the general manager and weve made it. Weve made it five months ago and were going to stick to it.

Rizzo is aware of the national attention the subject has received, but he is firm in his beliefs and has all the information he needs to back it up.

Stephen Strasburg is one of the most popular players in baseball and it is a good conversational piece. It is a debatable subject, but most of the people who have weighed in on this know about ten percent of the information that we know, that weve made our opinion and based it on.

Rizzo was asked if Jordan Zimmermann, a year ahead of Strasburg in the recovery from Tommy John, presents a good example of the plan working. The Nats general manager expanded that notion to include other young arms such as Ross Detwiler and Lucas Giolito, and believes nothing should change that stance.

Just because were in a different position in the standings, were not going to forego my philosophy of player development and keeping pitchers healthy and weve been consistent with it throughout.

Nobody believes the Nationals are as good a team without Strasburg, he is one of the best pitchers in the league and the staffs true ace. But Rizzo is at peace with their talent moving forward this season, with or without the former number one pick.

I think weve got four of the top pitchers in the National League, I think all of them can go out there and win you a game under duress in a playoff atmosphere. I think that theyre ultra-talented and theyre stuff-guys and I think theyre going to be tough to deal with for any team that we play against.

Taking Strasburgs place in the rotation will be John Lannan, a veteran who held a 3.71 ERA last season through 184.2 innings in 2011. You could certainly have worse backup plans than that.

It was part of our plan at the beginning was to be very deep at starting pitcher. It was one of the reasons why we signed Edwin Jackson when people thought we didnt need him, he said.

It was one of the reasons why people thought we were looking to trade John Lannan when, unless we got blown away by a good deal we knew that John Lannan was going to pitch important innings for us sometime this year and the time is about ready for him to get here.

If the Nationals fail to win the World Series, it could be shutting down Strasburg that people point to as the difference. Rizzo knows that, the Nationals know that. But Johnson has won a World Series before and thinks his team has the depth and character to battle through any type of situation.

Weve faced adversity all year long. We didnt have our cleanup hitter, we didnt have our closer. We lost our starting catcher, we lost Jayson Werth for two months, he said.

Quick Links

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

anibal_sanchez_nationals_pitching_usat.jpg
USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

 

NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.

Quick Links

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

victor-robles-7-19.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Injuries: 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

Coming Up:

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: