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Morse out until at least Tuesday

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Morse out until at least Tuesday

ATLANTA -- The Nationals will be without Michael Morse for their entire weekend series against the Braves, with manager Davey Johnson saying his left fielder likely won't be able to return from a left hand injury until Tuesday at the earliest.

Morse was initially hoping to take batting practice before tonight's series opener at Turner Field -- and potentially play -- but said he wasn't ready for that and hadn't really attempted to do anything with that hand since he removed himself from Tuesday's game in New York.

"I kind of thought it was being real optimistic that he'd be available today," Johnson said. "I think it's more likely next Tuesday. He's still bothered by it, and I didn't think it was going to heal in 48 hours."

Morse was diagnosed with a torn sheath and bone bruise, an injury he believes he initially sustained last month while compensating for a problem with his right thumb.

Because he played with it as long as he did, Morse is tempted to try to get back in the lineup as soon as possible. At the same time, he doesn't want to risk further injury that could affect his ability to play during the season's final weeks and beyond.

"Do I wait, trying to get it better? Or do I play?" he said. "It's kind of a balance."

Johnson said Morse would have to make it through an entire pregame workout before he'd consider a return, though he understands the injury may not heal 100 percent that quickly and the slugger may have to try playing through some pain.

"It also has to do with what you can tolerate," the manager said. "Obviously he's been trying to play through it, but he's dominant with the bottom hand, and that's the hand that the tear in the cuff is. So we'll have to wait and see."

Johnson doesn't feel an urgent need to rush Morse back, in part because of the options he has to replace him in left field. Roger Bernadina is starting tonight's series opener, though Tyler Moore could also get playing time before the weekend is up.

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

Friday night marks the first second-half game of Major League Baseball's 162-game season. 

The Washington Nationals begin 5.5 games out of the first-place Phillies and host the second-place Braves for a three-game series before traveling to Milwaukee. 

One big piece to Dave Martinez's staff who has been missing since June 8 is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander was activated from the DL and will start on the mound Friday night. 

Ryan Zimmerman was also activated but is not in Martinez's starting lineup. 

Prior to experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder during a June 8 start that forced him out of the game early, Strasburg saw flashes of dominance throughout his 13 starts owning a 3.46 ERA with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Zimmerman hasn't played since May 9 due to a strained right oblique. With the emergence of Matt Adams, it will be interesting to see how Martinez uses both guys throughout the summer. 

Here is a look at Friday night's official lineup: 

According to Byron Kerr, Zimmerman is still happy to be back, despite not being in the starting lineup. 

Catch the Nationals hosting the Braves Friday at 7:05 p.m. on MASN2. 

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

It doesn't have quite the same feel as Opening Day, but the first games after the MLB All-Star break certainly have their own unique excitement to them.

Teams are jockeying for playoff position, and the trade deadline is rapidly approaching. The Nats have struggled through the first half, but are still within striking distance of a spot in the 2018 postseason, so every game matters.

To help get you ready for the rest of the 2018 regular season, our baseball writers have provided a couple of bold predictions which are sure to be proven wrong by August.

Bold predictions for the second half of the 2018 MLB season:

Ryan Wormeli: 1) Despite the consensus top three teams in baseball all residing in the American League, this year’s World Series champion will be a National League squad.

2) Max Scherzer does NOT win the National League Cy Young award, even though most fans agree he has the best statistical season.

Cam Ellis: 1) Bryce Harper ends up with 45 home runs this season.

2) Koda Glover eventually gets the 7th inning spot.

Michaela Johnson: 1) Nationals win the NL East (I know this VERY bold but like I said I have high expectations).

2) Tanner Roark will get back on top of his game.

Tyler Byrum: 1) The Milwaukee Brewers will drop out of the playoff hunt. 

Every year the Brewers seem to be close to running away with the NL Central. Then, once we get closer to the All-Star break and move beyond they go silent. It’s getting quite ridiculous at this point. Last year they had 50 wins in the first half, finished with only 86.

2) Philadelphia will make a trade deadline acquisition, but it will not get them over the hump. 

There are just too many issues with the Phillies; starting pitching behind Aaron Nola, consistent batting as a team, and the bullpen. They’ve done a fantastic job to piece together a 53-42 record and sit atop the division, but it will be tough to maintain it. 

Right now, they are almost the exact opposite of the Nationals.