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Nats must wait for NLDS matchup, schedule


Nats must wait for NLDS matchup, schedule

The clubhouse at Nationals Park likely still smells like champagne, and players will likely be trudging in over the next hour or two still exhausted from last night's celebration, eager to take both a physical and emotional break from the grind before gearing up again for the postseason.

There isn't much time to rest, up, though. The National League Division Series awaits this weekend.

Now, if only the Nationals knew who they'll be playing and when.

Though they've wrapped up their first NL East title, there's still plenty left to be decided. The Nationals enter play today tied with the Reds for the NL's best record at 96-64. They own the tiebreaker against Cincinnati based on their 5-2 head-to-head record this season, so they merely need to hold their position over the next two days.

If the Nationals do end up as the No. 1 seed, they would face the winner of Friday night's NL Wild Card playoff in the NLDS, with Games 1 and 2 on the road Sunday and Monday in either Atlanta, St. Louis or Los Angeles. Nationals Park would then host Game 3 and, if necessary, Games 4 and 5 next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

If the Nationals end up as the No. 2 seed, they know they'll travel to San Francisco to face the NL West champion Giants on Saturday and Sunday. They would then return home for Game 3 on Tuesday, with Games 4 and 5 scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday if necessary.

One major complicating factor to all this: The weather. It's been pouring all day, and there's a 60 percent of rain throughout the evening, leaving tonight's game against the Phillies up in the air.

Though the outcome of the game has no bearing on the division race, it likely has bearing on the race with the Reds for the league's best record. And since this year's new format creates a real distinction between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, Major League Baseball is going to want the Nationals to do everything within their power to play this game.

That could mean a long night at the park today, or it could mean a doubleheader tomorrow.

The division may be clinched and the postseason may be coming to Washington next week for the first time in 79 years, but there's still much to be sorted out between now and then.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.


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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

Following a dicey matchup between the Nats and Braves Friday night which featured a heated argument between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are getting a much-needed opportunity to regroup.

The Washington Nationals' official Twitter account announced that Saturday evening's matchup will be postponed due to inclement weather just after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The Nationals had planned to host "JMU Night" at the ballpark as a part of their "College Day" series, and due to more forecasted inclement weather Sunday, the Nationals decided to call the game off sooner rather than later.

The Nationals have yet to announce when the game will be made up.

If Sunday's game is played as scheduled, Max Scherzer will start.

This post will be updated when more information regarding a makeup date has been announced.