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Updated: Nats call up top prospect Trea Turner


Updated: Nats call up top prospect Trea Turner

[Updated: 5:50 p.m.]

Needing a right-handed bat for their bench and a boost for the pennant race, the Nationals have called up top prospect Trea Turner on the first day of a long homestand.

Bench player Tyler Moore was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain as the corresponding move. The team moved reliever Aaron Barrett (right elbow strain) to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Turner, 22, is considered the top position player prospect in the organization. A first round pick in 2014, the shortstop joined the Nationals this past offseason in a trade with the San Diego Padres.

Turner received the unexpected news on Thursday when Syracuse Chiefs manager Billy Gardner called him. Turner, however, didn't pick up the first time as he didn't recognize the number - he had not saved it in his phone - and he was in the middle of a movie.

Turner was with his teammates at a theater on their off-day watching the movie 'Straight Outta Compton.' Who knew the nickname 'Trea Day' that Nats fans had used all season would be so prescient?

When Gardner called a second time, Turner walked outside to pick it up.

"He actually just asked me if I've ever been to Washington, D.C. before and let me know I was going back there because I had visited once when I was younger. We were watching the new movie 'Straight Outta Compton.' It was actually a very good movie, but it made it a little bit better getting that news," he said.

Turner began the season in the Padres' organization before jumping to the Nationals in June due to a now-extinct rule that prevented players from getting traded within a year after they were drafted. Despite all of that, he has thrived this season with a .322 average, eight homers and 54 RBI in 116 total minor league games. 

After leaving Double-A San Antonio, a Padres affiliate, Turner joined the Double-A Harrisburg Senators and hit .359 in 10 games. The Nats then promoted him to Triple-A Syracuse where he batted .314 with three homers, 15 RBI, 31 runs and 14 steals in 48 games.

Now he is in the majors at just 22 years old.

"The last 24 hours have been wild, obviously. Getting the news and having to tell my parents, which was obviously a great feeling. My girlfriend and all that. It's been wild. Dream come true and I'm just trying to enjoy every moment of it," he said.

Turner had worked exclusively at shortstop in his minor league career until this week when the Nats played him twice at second base. He now joins a Nationals roster with a crowded group of infielders that already includes Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon.

Turner doesn't know yet what his role will be with the Nats, but is prepared for whatever they ask.

"They just told me to get ready and kind of approach every game like I would anywhere else. I'm just trying to do whatever I can, whatever they need me to. If it's pinch-running, defense, it doesn't matter to me. If I get a start here and there, that's alright. Whatever they need me to," he said.

“We’re not expecting to be the savior of the offense or the savior of the ball club," GM Mike Rizzo said. "We just want him to do what he does his best, add his skill set to Matt Williams’ arsenal of tools to win baseball games.”

Turner has very little experience playing second base, but did take grounders on the field before Friday's game to practice. Both he and the Nats feel comfortable with him playing at second if the situation arises.

"It's different," he said. "But I trust myself to do any of it; outfield, infield, whatever. You gotta have confidence in it and, like I said, you gotta prepare and get out there and make sure you're ready for the moment. I'll try to be out there and work on it as much as I can."

Ian Desmond, in particular, could be most affected in the long-term by Turner's presence on the roster. Desmond is in the final year of his contract and Turner is projected as the future shortstop in the event the veteran leaves in free agency.

Desmond was asked about that dynamic on Friday and said he wishes Turner nothing but the best.

"Being a middle infielder, it’s like a fraternity so anytime another guy gets called up you’re obviously happy for him," he said. "This is about winning right now. There’s no personal agendas here. This is about the Nationals and getting Ws and that’s got to be our focus."

Turner said a host of his closest friends and family members will travel to Washington in anticipation of his MLB debut. 

"I actually have a lot of people, a lot more than I thought. A lot of friends, college coach, parents, girlfriend, maybe some aunts and uncles. I'm not even sure right now, but a lot of people are coming. It makes me feel good because they're probably just as excited as I am and they've always wanted to experience this with me, so I'm glad they get the chance," he said.

The Nationals acquired Turner in a three-team deal that sent outfielder Steven Souza, Jr. to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Nats also received starting pitcher Joe Ross in the Dec. 19 trade.

With Ross already finding success in the majors, and with Turner now set to debut, the trade looks very good for the Nationals in retrospect.

"A very good trade for us," Matt Williams said. "Key guys in key positions potentially for us that help us win. Those are very talented young men."

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

We're just a couple of weeks away from the midway point of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, which means many casual fantasy baseball players have collectively turned their attention to the gridiron. This is good news for those of you still interested, because outside of the truly competitive leagues, it's about to get much easier to navigate the waiver wire and make winning trades.

That said, we'll still be here all season long, providing advice for anyone looking to gain a competitive edge in their fantasy leagues. There's a lot to digest in the upcoming week, as many teams (including the Washington Nationals) will play a full seven game slate. It's an especially great time for stars in baseball, as a whopping six players are on pace to record seasons with 8.7 Wins Above Replacement or higher, but there's still plenty of great options beyond the obvious guys.

NOTE: Don’t expect to see guys like Bryce Harper or Trea Turner mentioned too often. They are clear must-starts every week. Don’t overthink it.

Week 12 (6/18-6/24)

One Nationals pitcher to start: Max Scherzer

We won't often include a guy on the level of Mad Max in our recommendations, but consider this a statement against the other pitchers. With Stephen Strasburg on the DL, Gio Gonzalez is really the only other startable option in the rotation, and while he's a fine play against the Orioles, he's not a sure thing. Scherzer is the best pitcher in baseball, so when in doubt, it's easy to fall back on his name. For now, feel free to use Gonzalez if needed, but the only clear, recommendable one this week is Scherzer.

One Nationals position player to start: Adam Eaton, OF

Consider this your reminder to not get cute and just start Adam Eaton whenever he's healthy. When he can manage to avoid time on the disabled list, he's consistenly been one of the best players in Washington, and an absolute must-start in fantasy. Yes, he's hitting "just" .286 in five games since returning from the DL, but there's no reason to believe he won't bounce back to one of the top hitters in the National League once he gets back in the swing of things. As long as he's hitting at the top of the Washington lineup, he'll be one of the top run producers in baseball.

One Nationals pitcher to sit: Erick Fedde

We likely would have advised against starting Fedde regardless of matchup, given his relative struggles in his two starts with the Nats this season. He's got a nice 9:2 strikeout-to-walk rate, but the ERA sits at an unsightly 5.91. What makes matters worse is the matchup; Fedde is once again slated to face the vaunted New York Yankees lineup. In New York, he allowed two home runs in just five innings, and while Nats park isn't the hitter's haven that Yankee Stadium is, the sluggers in their lineup make for a daunting matchup in any city.

Fedde probably isn't owned in most leagues, and there's no reason for that to change, even with his spot in the rotation likely secure as long as Strasburg isn't throwing.. 

One Nationals player to sit: Daniel Murphy, 2B

Nats fans were understandably rejoicing when Daniel Murphy returned to the lineup last week. It's always fun when one of your stars is back on the field after missing so much time. Still, like most players who haven't face in-game pitching in several months, Murphy has been slow to re-adjust at the plate. He's recorded just two hits in 15 at-bats, has only walked once, and has yet to notch an extra-base hit of any kind. His OPS is below-.200, and while no one should expect that to last, there's no need to rush him back into your lineups either.

It would be pretty tempting to slot Murphy into your 2B or middle infield spot now that he's healthy, since you likely drafted him to be one of your studs, but given his lengthy absence, the nature of his original injury, and his slow start since returning, it's probably a good idea to leave him on your bench for a week or two. Once he starts driving the ball again, he can start to return value for you, but there's no reason to let him drag you down in the meantime.

Any 2-start pitchers for the Nationals this week?

Given that the rotation is currently in a state of flux, we can't confidently say any starter will get two starts. Fedde looks like the most likely candidate, but as we outlined above, he's still a pitcher you want to avoid for now.

Any 2-start pitchers worth streaming around MLB this week?

One of my favorite sleepers this week is Domingo German. One of the most surprising stats in all of baseball right now is that among starting pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, German has the second best swinging strike rate, behind only Max Scherzer. Swinging strike rate is a great stat to use when projecting future strikeout potential, and German's 15.9% is mighty impressive. German has a start at home against the Mariners and on the road against the Rays, so while it's not a cakewalk week, it's not especially daunting either. As an added bonus for those in points leagues, German is RP-eligible, giving you some extra roster flexibility.

The walks are a little high (21 in 53.3 innings) which has let to an elevated WHIP and ERA, but it's a good rule of thumb to follow the strikeouts when identifiying quality fantasy pitchers, and considering most of the two-start guys this week are obvious studs who are certainly already owned in your league, German is the exact type of option you should be looking to stream.

One player you might not realize you should pick up: John Hicks, C/1B (Tigers) 

This is a sneaky move, the kind that could easily get overlooked in most fantasy leagues but could provide a great return on investment. With Miguel Cabrera's unfortunate season-ending biceps injury providing an opening in the everyday lineup in Detroit, Hicks (who is catcher elgibile) will be taking most of the team's at-bats at first base going forward. While he's probably not worth rostering as a first baseman in most leagues, catcher is a notorious black hole in fantasy baseball in recent years, and this season might be the wost yet.

Hicks will maintain catcher eligibility all season long, yet he'll play the far less demanding first base every day, giving him less wear and tear on his legs, less concern with running the pitching staff, and most importantly, regular at-bats in a surprisingly not-atrocious lineup. Hicks isn't the type of guy you'd refer to as a league-winner prior to Opening Day, but he could make a real impact on a championship roster in the second half of the season.

One player you might not realize you should drop: Jake Junis, SP (Royals) 

Junis isn't the type of pitcher that I'd classify as a must-drop, but you shouldn't hesitate to move on if there's a clear better option on the waiver wire. Junis started the season strong and looked like a legitimate breakout player, but he's allowed six earned runs in each of his last two starts. A poor two-start stretch isn't the end of the world, which is why I'm not suggest that everyone jump ship regardless of team context. That said, he doesn't have the pedigree of a top pitching prospect, and he plays for one of the five worst teams in baseball, meaning you can't expect many wins even when Junis is throwing well.

At the very least, you prbably should leave Junis on the bench for the time being, and again, if there's an option you've been eyeing on the waiver wire, now is the time to strike. Don't feel bad if that means leaving Junis behind to free up a roster spot for your team.


- Nice Threads: MLB reveals All-Star jerseys
- Rankings Update: Where did the Nats fall?
- On the Farm: Latest Nats prospect report

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Nationals' offense remains quiet in 2-0 loss to Toronto

Nationals' offense remains quiet in 2-0 loss to Toronto

TORONTO  -- Max Scherzer lost his second straight start for the first time since 2015 when Marco Estrada pitched 6 2-3 shutout innings and Devon Travis homered Saturday for the Toronto Blue Jays in a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals.

Scherzer (10-3) gave up four hits, including the two-run homer by Travis, in six innings. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner struck out 10, increasing his major league-leading total to 152.

The right-hander, who lost to San Francisco in his previous outing, last lost two straight starts in a three-game skid in August 2015. Travis homered for the second game in a row when he connected in the fifth, right after Scherzer hit Luke Maile with a pitch.

Estrada (4-6) allowed three hits, one a bunt single, to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season. Toronto has won six straight at home after losing 10 of its previous 11 at Rogers Centre.

Trea Turner hit a two-out double in the sixth, but Estrada struck out Bryce Harper looking. An exasperated Harper was caught looking again to end the eighth, stranding a runner at first. Harper went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .221.

Estrada left after Michael A. Taylor's two-out single put runners at first and second in the seventh. Danny Barnes came on and needed two pitches to retire Wilmer Difo on a groundout.

Barnes and Aaron Loup each got two outs and former Nationals closer Tyler Clippard finished the three-hitter for his third save in six opportunities.