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Wang to start Sunday for Nats

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Wang to start Sunday for Nats

Faced with a decision to pitch a starter on short rest or use a spot start from his bullpen on Sunday against the Brewers, Nats manager Davey Johnson has decided to send Chien-Ming Wang to the mound for his first start since June 19. The situation arose after a postponed game on Tuesday against the Dodgers forced a doubleheader the following day.

After using both Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan on Wednesday against L.A., Johnson looked towards Sunday with a decision between Craig Stammen and Wang. The Nationals manager narrowed it down between the two based on matchups as the Brewers offer a lineup rife with right-handed bats. Pitching Wang also allows Johnson to keep Stammen in his current role in the bullpen, a middle-inning specialist with the ability to pitch in long relief.

The other guy I was going to do is Stammen, but I really like the role that he is in, he is invaluable in the role. If I started him I would lose him two or three days before and two or three days after, I dont want to do that at this point.

Wang appeared in Wednesdays second game, his first outing since June 30. He pitched 2 13 innings in relief and allowed zero earned runs with just a pair of hits offered to the Dodgers. Johnson liked what he saw and hopes to get a productive start out of the pitcher he originally pegged as his fifth starter back in March.

I like the way Chien-Ming Wang threw last night, he had good sink, Johnson said.

I like who he is and who he is all about and I like his competitiveness. He has been in big games and all these are big games. I think he will do us a good job on Sunday.

Wang pitching in a meaningful September game is something that sounded more realistic back when he was originally named the fifth starter. But now, after a season plagued by injuries and inconsistency, few could have guessed just a week ago he would get the opportunity. Johnson, however, doesnt forget how good he looked early on.

Hes had just a bunch of injuries that really set him back. I liked where he was in the spring, he was going to be my fifth starter over Ross Detwiler, he said.

With the terrible leg injury and maybe that led to some mechanical problems, but I like our chances with him on the mound.

Wang began the season on the disabled list with a hamstring and also hurt his hip later on in the year. Before Wednesday's game he hadn't even pitched in a minor league game since September 1.

Wang is healthy now and looked good on Wednesday, but despite getting the start Davey doesnt expect anything to change in the rotation after Sunday. If anyones job would be in jeopardy after a strong outing by Wang it would be Lannan who allowed six runs in just 3 23 innings, his worse start of the season, but Johnson confirmed he is safe for now.

One start is not going to put him in my rotation, although Lannan was all messed up. He just couldnt find the rhythm, the groove, when his other three starts up here have been great. I told Johnny dont worry about it, nothing is happening.

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Mike Rizzo provides an injury update on Max Scherzer

Mike Rizzo provides an injury update on Max Scherzer

After being placed on the 10-day injured list with a mid-back strain, Max Scherzer is supposed to come off of the IL by Saturday in time for the Nationals' third game of their series against the Atlanta Braves.

When he will actually pitch, is another question.

On Tuesday, Scherzer reportedly told manager Davey Martinez he's feeling "a lot better." Nationals GM Mike Rizzo followed up those comments during his spot on The Sports Junkies Wednesday.

"If he’s capable of pitching he will," Rizzo said.

Rizzo told the Junkies that he will find out more information about Scherzer's status prior to Wednesday's final game against the Baltimore Orioles. He said he, in conjunction with the Nationals' medical personnel, made the decision to place Scherzer on the 10-day IL.

“He was incapable of pitching the way Max Scherzer pitches so we all decided to put him on the IL," Rizzo said.

Scherzer was scheduled to start against the Braves this weekend, but the decision will depend on how Scherzer feels.

‘We’re still in July," Rizzo said. "Guarantee you this: If this is September and we needed this win, you couldn’t keep Max off the mound. Sometimes I have to be the adult in the room and just say, ‘sorry, buddy, not this time.”

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Mike Rizzo on how the Nationals plan to approach the nearing trade deadline

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Mike Rizzo on how the Nationals plan to approach the nearing trade deadline

With the MLB trade deadline only two weeks away, Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo expects the team to be more focused on acquiring players than trading away any - and that includes third baseman Anthony Rendon, whose contract expires at the end of season.

"Obviously, we’re always listening and we’re always talking to people," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "But I don’t anticipate moving Anthony Rendon, no."

Rendon's contract extension of $18.8 million going into the 2018 season will expire at the end of this season, and while Rizzo and the Nationals have made it clear they are actively working to re-sign him, a deal has yet to be made.

Rendon's agent Scott Boras told NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas during the All-Star Break that he and the [Nationals team owners] Lerners have "always worked out things -- usually."

“There are times that they make decisions and we make decisions, and I think they’ve been very good decisions for all parties involved," Boras added at the time. "When they sit down and look at where their franchise is going, that’s a direction they have to give us. Obviously, they have to make those decisions. Rendon is a superstar and that is a major decision in their franchise. I don’t ask. I just go and prepare for our meetings and we talk and kind of listen to what they tell us they want to do. It’s really in their corner as to how we go from there.”

Rizzo told the Junkies that the Nationals plan to keep Rendon, though acknowledged the calls for him from other teams do keep coming in.

‘’[An offer] would have to be something that wouldn’t make sense for us to turn down and probably wouldn’t make sense for them to acquire," Rizzo said on trading Rendon.

Rizzo said the Nationals' front office is prepared to add some players to the roster.

"We’ve been most recently in acquire mode, because, you know, we’ve had the chance to win the last eight seasons and I think we're in that mode again," Rizzo said.

Though, of course, he wouldn't actually rule out making any trades that send some players out of DC.

"We're an aggressive front office, we're an aggressive ownership group, and if there’s a deal to be made that would help us prepare for meaningful games in September and beyond, we’ve shown in the past that we’re capable of doing that and we're not afraid to make a trade," he said.

The Nationals take on the Orioles for game 2 of the Battle of the Beltways Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. 

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