Nationals

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Nats best pitching staff in baseball?

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Nats best pitching staff in baseball?

The Nationals are one of several surprise MLB teams this season, a team well above .500 at this point in the year for the first time in a while. But as we move through the end of May, questions will continue to arise as to which teams can sustain their success and which ones will fall back down to Earth. One columnist at MLB.com believes they will remain contenders because of one important reason: they have the best pitching staff in baseball.

Mike Bauman of MLB.com says the "novelty value of the Nationals having, for instance, the second-best record in the National League is wearing off." He writes the Nats' success has "lost its shock effect." Washington is first in the N.L. East and Bauman believes it is something people around baseball need to get used to.

Bauman also cites an interesting quote from Chipper Jones. Jones made headlines on Friday after saying Stephen Strasburg is the best pitcher he has ever seen. Now, according to Bauman, Jones thinks the Nats have the best pitching staff in all of baseball.

"They have five guys that have established themselves as the best starting staff in the game," Jones said. "They have the best starting five in the game -- no doubt."

Jones is one of the best hitters of his generation and one of the best switch-hitters the game has ever seen. He also knows what great pitching staffs look like having been a Brave when Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine dominated the opposition. For him to say their rotation is the best in the game says something and it certainly backs Bauman's claim. The season is still relatively young and lots can happen, but the Nationals definitely look stable enough pitching-wise to compete in a series with any team in the majors.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.