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Looking ahead to September call-ups

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Looking ahead to September call-ups

There are still about two weeks until MLB rosters expand from 25 to 40 players, but during that time Nationals brass will be looking at their minor league teams to see who they want for a September showcase. Some may be brought up to play key, specialized roles for the seasons final month. Some may be called upon to potentially stay on board for the playoffs. And some may simply be called up to gain MLB experience for the future or a possible trade.

Last season the Nats brought up a few familiar names including Steve Lombardozzi who is now a key member of the 2012 club. They also pulled up pitchers Brad Peacock and Tom Milone who, after showing they belonged in the big leagues, were shipped to Oakland for All-Star Gio Gonzalez.

This year the Nats find themselves in a much different position with the best record in the league and likely cant afford handing out starts to minor league pitchers. They may, however, utilize several guys in very specific roles to help boost their team and rest some of their players during the home stretch.

Rosters can be expanded on September 1st, but the Nats' Triple-A affiliate Syracuse Chiefs play until September 3rd so they may not be brought up until then.

Here are some players the Nats may call up:

Position Players

OF Corey Brown

Brown has made two stints with the big league club this season, a three-game visit in May and a six-game spot in July. He was sent back down in lieu of Chad Tracy who returned from injury two games after Brown hit his first major league home run. Brown has power, can play the outfield, and can also help on the basepaths with 16 stolen bases in 107 games with Syracuse.

OF Eury Perez

Perez can help the Nationals defensively as a speedy outfielder, but if he is brought up it will most likely be for his base running. Perez has 43 stolen bases this year in 112 total minor league games this season and has adjusted well to Triple-A pitchers with a .330 average in 25 games.

IF Chris Marrero

Marrero may be called up only because he was with the team last September and proved he can hang at the big league level. He has worked his way back from injury this season and is still finding his swing with Syracuse. The Nats, however, already have Tyler Moore and Mark DeRosa who can do everything Marrero can do at this point and more.

Pitchers

LHP John Lannan

This one you can count on, Lannan will be brought up in September to take the rotation spot of Stephen Strasburg and assume the role of the teams fifth starter. He has been stashed at Syracuse all season, but was brought up twice since the All-Star break and earned the win in both outings. Lannan has pitched better at the MLB level this season than he has at Triple-A and the Nats expect him to jump right in and help continue their quest for a division title.

RHP Christian Garcia

MLB.com reported that Garcia will likely be called up in September as the 26-year-old reliever has been dominant for Syracuse. In 20 appearances with the Chiefs he has a 0.36 ERA and has held opponents to a .107 batting average. He hasnt allowed a run since June and has 33 strikeouts in 25.1 innings. Garcia is expected to see some action in September and there is a slim, outside chance he could stay on for October. If an injury happens to their bullpen or if Drew Storen continues to struggle, a spot could open up.

LHP Zach Duke

Duke is an MLB veteran of seven seasons and has sort of revitalized his career in the minor leagues this year. With Syracuse he is 13-5 with a 3.57 ERA in 23 games, not unbelievable numbers but they suggest he deserves another chance at the highest level. When Strasburg is shut down, he could be the next man up as far as starting pitchers in the event of an injury. Even if the Nats were to call on Tom Gorzelanny in that case, Duke could be the emergency fall back for a left-handed long relief man.

RHP Yunesky Maya

Maya was a September call-up last season, but his chances of being brought up this year are slim. Still, no one has pitched better for Syracuse this season as Maya leads the Chiefs rotation with a 3.52 ERA. He has a 1.11 WHIP through 145.2 innings and is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in the month of August. Nats fans have seen a lot of Maya before and know his tendency to fade in the middle of games, but if you are looking at Syracuses rotation he sure stands out.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

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USA TODAY

3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

Nationals fans are teetering on the edge. 

On one hand, the Nats are 3.5 games out of first place after a 10-week span full of injuries and underperformance. The team just acquired All-Star closer Kelvin Herrera, and their 19-year-old left fielder looks like an All-Star already. 

On the other hand, doom is imminent. The Monstars stole Bryce Harper's abilities at some point over the last three weeks, Steven Strasburg can't stay healthy, and the offense is pushing everyone's patience to the limit. 

So who's overperforming? Who's underperforming? Who's out there just trying their very best? LET'S LIST. 

Three Up

1. Juan Soto

Our large young son Juan continues to impress. He's now hitting .325/.411/.602 with a 1.013 OPS in 95 plate appearances over 25 games. That means we're mercifully starting to leave the 'fluky start' narrative behind. He's been the best hitter on the Nationals by a wide margain since he got called up - although that's perhaps more of an indicitment on the rest of the lineup than it is on Soto. Still, in less than a month he's probably earned the starting left field spot for the rest of the summer. Not bad. 

2. Justin Miller

Miller is 31, on his third team in four years, and owns a career ERA north of 4.50. Despite all of this, Miller's been the best reliever in baseball since coming up for the Nats. Of relief pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (we hear your sample size comment and are not going to acknolwdge it), no one has a better FIP than Miller (0.64). He's striking out over half of the batters he sees and has yet to walk a single person this year. All the elite relief pitchers are already at 30-40 innings pitched, so Miller has a while to go before these stats mean a whole lot. If he stays even 75 percent as good as he's started, the Nats' bullpen looks scary. 

3. Michael A. Taylor

Have yourself a week or two, Michael A.! The centerfielder is slashing .500/.556/.583 over the last 14 days, the first of many "Maybe He Put It Together?!" runs we'll see from him this year. He also has six stolen bases during that span, more than anyone else on the team. His plate discipline has been better over the last two weeks, with a BB% a shade over 11 percent - only behind Juan Soto for highest on the team. Juan Soto, man. 

Three Down

1. Bryce Harper

A couple things here. We'll start with the admission that Bryce Harper is obviously not having a superb year. We've already briefly touched on why looking at only his batting average is a lazy way of judging his season, and we stand by that. With that said - Harper's had a bad season. The last month has been particularly painful. There's no way of dressing up a .189/.278/.400 slashline over the last 30 days. Still, his contact has been as great as his luck terrible - there's a positive regression coming, we promise. 

2. Pedro Severino 

And you think Harper's been slumping?? Over the same 30 days, Severino has hit .098/.179/.115 with a .294 OPS. He's essentially daring the Nats to put together a trade package for JT Realmuto at this point. He has six hits over his last 68 plate appearances and five of them are singles. 

3. Shawn Kelley

Kelley owns a 6.09 FIP and a 4.32 ERA over the last month (10 games, 8.1 innings pitched). He's walking close to nine percent of the hitters he's faced during that time. He has a 12.5 HR/FB over the last month. With the trade for Kelvin Herrera and the sudden emergence of Justin Miller, Kelley's role going forward isn't quite clear anymore. 

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National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

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USA Today Sports

National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

In less than a month, the 2018 MLB All-Star game will take place at Nationals Park.

There are plenty of details that still need ironing out, but none are more important than the 64 players that will be taking the field at the Midsummer Classic.

Surely the Washington Nationals are hoping that many of their hometown stars will make the cut.

So, lets clear the air. How are the MLB All-Star rosters created? Well it is a combination of the fan vote, the player ballots, and the MLB Commissioners Office. No, it is not a 33-33-33 split, but rather a political (yet fair) process. Here is how it shakes out for there to be 32 players on each team:

  • Fan vote: eight position players in NL/ nine in AL (DH); plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 16 players in NL; 17 players in AL (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players) and five AL players (four pitchers, one position player)

Keep in mind, the MLB Commissioner’s Office merely is just there to ensure that there is one representative from all 30 MLB teams. Additionally, the player’s ballots are generally in-line with statistics and name recognition.

So let’s see how this shakes out for the National League All-Star Game roster. This factors in the latest fan vote returns:

National League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Buster Posey, Giants (Fan Vote), Wilson Contreras, Cubs (Player Ballot)
1B – Freddie Freeman, Braves (Fan Vote), Jose Martinez, Cardinals (Player Ballot), Justin Bour, Marlins (Commissioner’s Office)
2B – Ozzie Albies, Braves (Fan Vote), Scooter Gennett, Reds (Player Ballot)
3B – Nolan Arenado, Rockies (Fan Vote), Kris Bryant, Cubs (Player Ballot)
SS – Brandon Crawford, Giants (Fan Vote), Chris Taylor, Dodgers (Player Ballot)
OF – Nick Markakis, Braves (Fan Vote), Bryce Harper, Nationals (Fan Vote), Matt Kemp (Fan Vote), Albert Almora Jr., Cubs (Player Ballot), Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (Player Ballot), Corey Dickerson, Pirates (Player Ballot), David Peralta, Diamondbacks (Commissioner’s Office), Christian Yelich (Commissioner’s Office)

SP – Max Scherzer, Nationals (Player Ballot), Sean Newcomb, Braves (Player Ballot), Jon Lester, Cubs (Player Ballot), Aaron Nola, Phillies (Player Ballot), Jacob deGrom, Mets (Player Ballot), Mike Foltynewicz, Braves (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Brad Hand, Padres (Player Ballot), Sean Doolittle, Nationals (Player Ballot), Josh Hader Brewers (Player Ballot), Wade Davis, Rockies (Commissioner’s Office), Kenley Jansen (Commissioner’s Office), Jeremy Jeffress (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Dave Roberts, Dodgers

After this, there will be one more player chosen by another fan vote. The MLB Commissioner’s Office, along with the manager, choses five players to be selected in the penultimate vote. 

This puts three Nationals on the All-Star team with the Braves leading the charge with five selections.

Now of course nothing ever goes to plan, but heck its baseball, not everyone will be happy.

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