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Nats adjust rotation with Doug Fister now off disabled list

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Nats adjust rotation with Doug Fister now off disabled list

Doug Fister returned to the Nationals' rotation on Thursday for his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list and, as a result, adjustments were made to their pitching staff.

The Nats' scheduled starters will now be pushed back a day with rookie Joe Ross pitching on Friday, Max Scherzer on Saturday and Gio Gonzalez on Sunday. And, though manager Matt Williams avoided specifics when discussing the corresponding move, it appears Tanner Roark is headed back to the bullpen.

"It just means everybody gets pushed. Fister takes his spot. It's like an off-day in the grand scheme of it. Everybody gets pushed a day," Williams said.

Right-hander Taylor Hill was sent back down to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Fister, who rejoins the team after missing over a month with a right forearm strain.

Fister made seven starts this season before going on the DL after an outing against the Padres in San Diego. He is 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA on the year.

Williams cited Roark's attitude and versatility as making transitions like this easy for the coaching staff.

"It's certainly a luxury to know that Tanner can do all of those things. If do have an issue like we do with Doug or with [Stephen Strasburg], then he inserts back into the rotation and can do great and pitch well for us," he said.

"I think [his mentality] is the overriding factor. He just doesn't care. If it's an inning, he's ready to pitch that inning. If it's three, he's ready for that. And if it's a start, he's ready for that. He enjoys the opportunity to pitch whatever that is and whenever that is. He's proven that he can handle all of it."

Williams said he does not anticipate any pitch count or innings restrictions for Fister, who started twice in his recently completed minor league rehab assignment. Fister pitched 9 2/3 innings between Triple-A Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg, allowing one earned run on nine hits and no walks.

"I'm sure there will be questions to him in between innings. 'Are you feeling okay?' ... For me it's a health issue. Making sure he doesn't feel any tightness. As long as that's the case, then he's good to go. We'll monitor it through the game in that regard," Williams said.

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Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

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USA TODAY Sports

Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

WASHINGTON -- A teenager among men, Juan Soto has impressed his teammates on the Washington Nationals with his maturity and, even more so, his potent bat.

Soto hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, and Washington beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Thursday night in the deciding matchup of a three-game interleague series between neighboring rivals.

Soto, a 19-year-old rookie, is batting .326 with 16 RBIs in 28 games. Starting in the cleanup spot for the first time, he drew a walk and delivered the game's pivotal hit.

"I think we're all amazed every single day," Washington ace Max Scherzer said. "He puts together great ABs. He has antics and has some flair. He's a great young player. He's just enjoying himself."

Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double off Mychal Givens (0-4) and Trea Turner followed with a single. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Soto hit a liner into the gap in left-center.

"He's got unbelievable poise," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. "No matter what the situation is, he goes out there with a game plan."

Whatever that plan is, it's effective.

"I just try to be focused and keep working," Soto said.

Rendon homered for the Nationals, who received seven strong innings from Scherzer and flawless work from their bullpen.

Newcomer Kelvin Herrera (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Sean Doolittle got three straight outs for his 20th save in 21 tries.

Seeking to end a rare run of two straight losses, Scherzer left a tied game after allowing two runs -- both on solo homers -- and striking out nine.

Afterward, the right-hander heaped praise upon Soto for the manner in which he's adapted to playing in the big leagues.

"He has a great feel for the strike zone," Scherzer said. "To have that type of eye, it's remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time and this age and this level."

Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Colby Rasmus homered for the Orioles in his first at-bat since April 6.

"Me and Max, we go way back, so I felt real good," said Rasmus, who had been sidelined with a hip injury.

In addition, Rasmus made an outstanding throw from right field to the plate, nailing Wilmer Difo on a tag-up play in the seventh inning with the score tied.

Mark Trumbo also homered for Baltimore, his sixth of the season and third in four games.

Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The right-hander was lifted with the score tied, leaving him winless in his last seven starts.

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Nats prospect update: Three minor-leaguers sent to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera

Nats prospect update: Three minor-leaguers sent to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera

The biggest story in Nationals prospects this week is the three Washington lost to the Royals in return for closer Kelvin Herrera. Here’s a look at what the Nationals gave up to add more depth to the bullpen.

Kelvin Gutierrez, AA 3B

The infielder, formerly on the Nationals’ 40-man roster, has posted a .285/.344/.388 line through his six-season minor league tenure. One of his greatest strengths is his speed, with 55 career stolen bases and 14 extra-base hits this season. His other notable tool is his powerful arm strength, which may help explain his transition from shortstop to the hot corner.

Blake Perkins, High A OF

The Nationals chose outfielder Blake Perkins in the second round of the 2015 draft. He has quite a bit of room to improve at the plate, batting .234/.344/.290 this season in Hagerstown. However, what he lacks offensively, he makes up for in the outfield. According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, Perkins has “plus speed, mature instincts, excellent routes and an above-average arm.”

Yohanse Morel, RHP

The biggest wild card of the group, Morel is a 17-year-old outfielder-turned-pitcher from the Dominican Republic. His fastball reaches 95 mph and he certainly has huge potential for growth. He has not yet pitched in the U.S. since making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in early June.

So, what did the Nationals gain?

Right-handed closer Kelvin Herrera is a two-time All-Star who is currently in the midst of a stellar season. In his Nats debut, he needed just six pitches to shut down the Orioles in the eight. The team is reportedly (and understandably) thrilled to have Herrera joining the roster. Adam Eaton said, "I'm so happy he's here and he's on my team and I don't have to face him anytime in the near future."

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