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Nats' Zimmerman has spoken extensively about PED users in past

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Nats' Zimmerman has spoken extensively about PED users in past

More than a month after the Al Jazeera report implicating Ryan Zimmerman and others in a story about performance enhancing drugs, Zimmerman has yet to comment in detail on the allegations. He has instead let a lawsuit he has filed against the network on the matter speak for itself.

But in the past, Zimmerman has spoken extensively about PEDs and those who have been accused of using them. There were two stories in particular that got Zimmerman talking on the subject. One was in 2012 when Ryan Braun - a member of the same 2005 draft class and a friend of Zimmerman's - was reported to have failed a drug test. The second was in 2013 when teammate Gio Gonalez was linked to banned substances through the Biogenesis scandal, along with Braun who was accused again.

Zimmerman's comments on Gonzalez and Braun share insight into how he feels about PEDs in general. It is fair to say that he has had some strong opinions on the matter.

In spring training of 2012, Zimmerman had this to say about Braun's allegations:

"This is our livelihood... That's the biggest thing that can be put on you that takes away your reputation and everything you've ever worked for. You get [accused] once in your career, you're screwed for the rest of your life. Everyone's always going to remember that."

"I think the drug system has done a very good job... There's literally no drugs in the game. If you're doing drugs, you're taking a huge risk and you're more than likely going to get caught. So I think the system has done its job."

In July of 2013, Zimmerman further discussed Braun and PED use with The Washington Post:

"I don’t want to say it’s unfortunate, because they did it to themselves... I don’t think there’s any room in the game for it. For me, if you have nothing to worry about, then you shouldn’t care what the penalties are."

"I think the guys that who are affected are the 24th, 25th guys on the roster... I feel bad for guys that are right on the fringe of making the team, and someone else used that for a couple years and took that away from them.”

And here is what Zimmerman said after Gonzalez was cleared from the Biogenesis report:

"Any time you’re on a list like that or suspected of something, I would imagine it weighs on you a little bit... To be cleared and be able to put it in the past and not have to worry about it anymore is, I'm sure, a great feeling. It's good for him, it's great for us, and hopefully we won't have to worry about it anymore with anyone in here."

Zimmerman will likely address the matter at some point, but these quotes demonstrate well his feelings on PEDs in general.

[RELATED: MLB wants Anti-doping Agency investigation for Al Jazeera PED report]

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Where is the dent in Houston’s roster? Nowhere

Where is the dent in Houston’s roster? Nowhere

What we know: Game 1 is Tuesday night in Houston. What we don’t: who will be pitching to start it.

There are reasonable guesses. Gerrit Cole is 99 percent the choice for Houston. Max Scherzer is the likely pick for Washington -- though it could tweak the whole situation by pitching Aníbal Sánchez in Game 1. Why Sánchez? Pitching Sánchez bumps Scherzer to Games 2 and 6, Stephen Strasburg to Games 3 and 7, and gives Patrick Corbin a start as well as two chances to use him out of the bullpen. The risk is two starts for Sánchez, though he has been pitching better than Corbin in the postseason.

Moving on. 

A closer look at the Astros confirms what is assumed from afar when the 107 in the wins column is viewed. They are a juggernaut. Often, that’s hyperbole. Not here.

Houston was No. 1 in Major League Baseball in OPS against right-handed pitching this season. Usually, that’s a left-handed heavy team which would suffer to a degree on the other side. Not the Astros. They were No. 2 in OPS against left-handed pitching. Rookie Yordan Alvarez carried an OPS over 1.000 against each side. George Springer is above .900 against both sides. So is Carlos Correa. 

Flip it. Maybe the Astros’ pitching has a notable problem against one side or the other. Nope. They are No. 2 this season in OBP-against by right-handed hitters (the Nationals are a right-handed heavy lineup). They are No. 1 against left-handed hitter in the same category. 

So, well, where else? The bullpen. Try there.

Roberto Osuna is the closer. He led the American League in games finished and saves. However, Osuna has not been infallible in the postseason. His ERA is 3.52. Sean Doolittle has been more than a run better, at 2.46. Daniel Hudson has not allowed a run. The key shot against Osuna came Saturday night when DJ LeMahieu hit a game-tying homer in the top of the ninth.

Osuna mixes a lot of pitches for a closer. He throws his fastball less than 50 percent of the time, his slider 18.4 percent of the time, a cutter 13.9 percent and a changeup 18.4 percent. He’s a rarity, the four-pitch closer.

Overall, the Astros’ bullpen was second in ERA.

Here’s another way to look at it: Do the Astros own the skills to get into the Nationals’ weakest point, the middle of the bullpen? Of course they do.

Houston led MLB in walk percentage and OBP. It is able to run up pitch counts, creating the gap between the high-end starter and the relievers with juice. The soft middle, as it is, for the Nationals, a place they desperately want to avoid.

So, to recap: the starting pitching is elite. The hitters operate against both sides. The bullpen is elite. The manager has been in charge of a club for three consecutive seasons of 101 wins or more, three consecutive ALCS appearances, two World Series appearances, and one title. Juggernaut, indeed.

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Nationals to host World Series watch parties at stadium for Games 1 and 2

Nationals to host World Series watch parties at stadium for Games 1 and 2

The Nationals will open the World Series on the road, traveling to Houston to take on the Astros for the first two games before heading back to the District. But the team is intent on packing Nationals Park anyway, as the stadium will host viewing parties for each of the Nats’ road games so that fans can watch their team on the jumbotron.

Admission into the park is free, but tickets must be reserved ahead of time. Parking passes will also be available.

For the first two games of the series—both of which begin just after 8 p.m. ET—the center field gate will open at 7 p.m. NATS PLUS members also have the opportunity to reserve premium seats behind home plate and at the Budweiser Brew House.

Game 1 of the World Series begins Tuesday night, when Cy Young contenders Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole will face off in an attempt to propel their respective clubs to a 1-0 series lead.

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