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

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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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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

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.