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Updated: Nats move Fister to bullpen, keep rookie in rotation


Updated: Nats move Fister to bullpen, keep rookie in rotation

[Updated 9:50 p.m.]

He was the Nationals' most consistent pitcher last season and their only starter to win a playoff game, but 7-year veteran Doug Fister will now move to the bullpen.

Manager Matt Williams made the announcement after Thursday's game, saying that rookie Joe Ross will remain in the rotation when Stephen Strasburg returns from the disabled list on Saturday against the Rockies.

"Stras is going to start Saturday and Doug's going to our bullpen," Williams said. "[Fister] wants to pitch. He's willing to do whatever we can to help us win. He was out there [in the bullpen] today and he'll continue to be out there and get innings where we can get him innings. He's a team guy."

Fister, 31, has struggled this season with a 4.60 ERA in 15 starts. He allowed five earned runs, including a career-high three homers, in his last outing on Aug. 3.

Fister was excellent in 2014, his first season with the Nationals. He finished eighth in NL Cy Young voting with a 2.41 ERA in 25 starts. The Nats acquired him in a trade with the Detroit Tigers after the 2013 season.

Now Fister will be a long-relief option for the Nationals.

"It's a difficult task when you've been a starter for so long. The opportunities for him will be long, that's kind of where we see it. It's never easy, but he's willing to go out there and help us win ballgames."

Fister accepting the move was something that impressed his teammates. Fister is in the final year of his contract and has proven himself as a starting pitcher, yet now he will be a reliever for the first time in his career.

"I mean Dougie is great and he’s kind of gone through injuries and stuff this year," Ryan Zimmerman said. "Hopefully that will let his arm get back in shape a little bit, maybe and feel a little bit better. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be a big part of this team for the rest of the year."

"Dougie's a professional. I wouldn't expect him to say anything different," Clint Robinson said. "Tough for him, but I know he's going to go to the bullpen and continue to work. He's going to do everything he can to help us."

"He's a pro. He's a standup guy, he's a good person and he's a team guy," Matt Thornton said. "That's what they want and he's going to accept it. He's probably not all that happy about it, but that's what they want right now and he's going to do his best in whatever role he gets into."

Ross, who was the beneficiary of the move, said he plans to talk to Fister when he gets the chance on Friday.

"I need to go thank him, obviously, because I'm sure he could have just said he wanted to stay. For me to get the opportunity to keep starting and for him to, I guess, choose the role of going to the bullpen, it's great. Anything we can do to win games and make a good playoff run," he said.

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Beats by Scherz: Why Scherzer chose Dr. Dre song as his walk-up music

Beats by Scherz: Why Scherzer chose Dr. Dre song as his walk-up music

NEW YORK – A few constants remain during this wayward Nationals season. One is Max Scherzer.

Scherzer comes into Tuesday leading the National League in innings pitched and strikeouts. He's second in strikeouts per nine innings and third in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Scherzer's 3.72 ERA is well above his average of 2.71 since arriving in Washington in 2015. However, his FIP (fielding-independent pitching) is a league-leading 2.45, showing he has been victimized by bad defense more than bad pitching.

He hopped on a pop-up edition of The Racing Presidents podcast Tuesday in New York. Sitting in the visitors dugout a day ahead of another matchup with 2018 Cy Young Award Jacob deGrom, Scherzer touched on lighter topics, like his selection of Dr. Dre's "Still Dre" as his walkup song, and addressed who is responsible for the Nationals being seven games under .500 the last year-plus.

We're all responsible," Scherzer said. "When you wear a hat and jersey that says Nationals on it, we're all in the same position. It's frustrating to not have a winning record. It's frustrating not to be winning as a team. [Since] I've been here, we've won a couple division titles and you know that feeling of what it's like to win. You know you have the core group of players who have won here in the past that can win here again. It's just a matter of figuring out what the right chemistry is and going out there and getting it done."

Scherzer is in his 12th major-league season. He's made at least 30 starts for 10 consecutive seasons. One of the reasons for his lack of injuries and durability is not because he goes through extensive recuperation during the offseason. Instead, Scherzer keeps pushing both his arm and body. 

"I try to find a way to continue to do more, to take more on my body even as I age," Scherzer said.

And, about that walkup song, which is part-protest, part-comeback song? He was out to dinner with reliever Aaron Barrett when it popped on and Barrett suggested it as this year's entrance music.

So, click below to listen to everything Scherzer had to say in our exclusive interview. Also, don't forget to download, rate and subscribe to The Racing Presidents podcast. We're with you after every game and with marquee interviews and insight you can't find elsewhere.


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The history of Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier's beef, explained

The history of Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier's beef, explained

Ever since they were teammates in Chicago on the White Sox, Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier haven't gotten along. Here's a breakdown of Eaton and Frazier's beef, and how it boiled over during Monday's 5-3 loss to the New York Mets.


Eaton and Frazier started their tenure with the White Sox on bad terms. The team was in the midst of a full rebuild, and Adam LaRoche retired after his son, Drake, was no longer allowed in the clubhouse.

With what appeared to be a vacuum in leadership, Eaton tried stepping up but it fell on deaf ears, particularly Frazier's.

Frazier, whose locker was next to Eaton's, called him out for being a phony according to 670 the Score. That spat led to a locker room fight.

Eaton's locker was then moved across the room from Frazier's, and the two were both eventually traded for picks and prospects.


During the Nationals' visit to New York on August 26, Eaton slid hard into second base, injuring Phillip Evans on the play. The Mets challenged the play as a violation of the slide rule, but Major League Baseball's review determined the slide was allowed.

The Mets didn't take kindly to it. Pitcher Zack Wheeler drilled Eaton, and as he trotted to first base, Frazier chirped him on his way there and Eaton responded.

 “When he usually talks or chirps, usually he says it just loud enough that you can hear him but you can’t understand him," Eaton told MASN after the game. "So I’ll just leave it at that.”


That brings us to Monday's 5-3 loss against the Mets. In the bottom of the third inning, as he was jogging to the dugout, Eaton got an earful from Frazier.

Eaton jawed back at Frazier, and other Nats players were ready to come to Eaton's defense before first base umpire Mike Estabrook impeded Eaton's progress toward Frazier.

After the game, Eaton unloaded. 

"I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point," Eaton explained. "So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

While Frazier kept quiet after the game, Tuesday he noted that Eaton should go "pay off your mortgage."

Before game time tonight, Eaton called the beef "high school stuff"

Will tonight's beef escalate during the game? Tune in at 7 p.m. to find out.