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Lannan, Perez, Leon among Nats call-ups

Lannan, Perez, Leon among Nats call-ups

With the calendar about to shift to September, the Nationals have plans to expand their roster in time for Saturday's game against the Cardinals.

Manager Davey Johnson said the club will recall left-hander John Lannan, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielder Eury Perez from Class AAA Syracuse. Veteran utilityman Mark DeRosa also will be activated off the disabled list after missing the last month with an abdominal strain.

The Nationals plan more reinforcements next week, after Syracuse's season ends on Monday. Johnson hinted that outfielder Corey Brown and reliever Christian Garcia will join the big-league roster at that point.

Of the September call-ups, Lannan figures to have the greatest impact. The left-hander was kept at Class AAA the entire season (aside from two spot starts during doubleheaders) specifically to take over the rotation spot that will become vacant when Stephen Strasburg is shut down.

Lannan, owner of a career 40-51 record and 3.99 ERA in 130 big-league starts, finished off his minor-league season in impressive fashion, tossing back-to-back, nine-inning shutouts. That helped reinforce the club's plan to keep a 5 million pitcher at Class AAA the entire season, if only to have him available for a handful of late-September starts.

"It's great," Johnson said. "He's had a great attitude down there and come up and really been excited about coming up and helping us win. ... I think his arm and his head and everything is in the right spot. There was never going to be any doubt of who was going to be the guy that came in to replace Stras. There have been all kinds of other guys available, but that's how high we are on John."

Leon will serve as the Nationals' third catcher, giving Johnson the ability to use one of his veterans (Kurt Suzuki or Jesus Flores) as a pinch-hitter without risk of losing his only remaining backstop.

Perez is the least-experienced of the call-ups, having appeared in only 40 games at Class AAA. But the 22-year-old outfielder possesses one key skill the Nationals hope to use to their advantage: speed. Perez has stolen 51 bases this season, and he'll be asked to serve as a pinch-runner in key spots down the stretch.

DeRosa, meanwhile, hopes to enjoy some late success at the end of a frustrating season. The 37-year-old was expected to be a big contributor off the bench, but he's battled injuries to his oblique and abdominal muscles and has hit only .152 in 34 games.

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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AP Images

How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Here's why one writer voted for Max Scherzer over Jacob deGrom for NL Cy Young

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USA Today

Here's why one writer voted for Max Scherzer over Jacob deGrom for NL Cy Young

Jacob deGrom could've been a unanimous Cy Young award winner Wednesday. Instead, he won with 29 of 30 first-place votes.

The only voter who chose not to give deGrom a first-place vote was John Maffei of the San Deigo Union-Tribune

"What is stunning to me is the blowback from the fans, especially in New York," wrote Maffei. "Dozens of emails — some venomous — ranging from 'hey dumbass,' 'incompetent,' 'idiot,' 'moron' and 'clown.' Several called for my head, my job."

Shocking. Keyboard warriors furiously typing out their frustration and overreacting to something they didn't like.  

Maffei joined Steve Somers of WFAN in New York as well, which ended up being the shortest interview in the history of interviews.

Maffei points out that he chose to vote for Scherzer over deGrom for many reasons. One being, despite a 1.70 ERA over 217 innings, he had 10 wins and nine losses.

After he talked with other baseball experts, looked at Scherzer's 2.53 ERA and his historic 300-strikeout season — making him one of only 17 pitchers to do that since 1900 — Maffei says his vote was swayed in the direction of the Nats' ace.

One thing's for sure, Maffei may not have made any friends in New York, but he's made plenty of new ones in Washington.