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Washington Nationals front load 2017 draft with pitchers

Washington Nationals front load 2017 draft with pitchers

In the 2017 MLB Draft, there is one position that the Washington Nationals made a focus: pitching.

It has been well documented about the Nationals' bullpen and their struggles throughout the early point of the season. Through June 13, the bullpen has 11 blown slaves. Now the MLB Draft is not a chance to find immediate help to fill in a position the team is lacking in, but rather development of their farm system. After all, even Stephen Strasburg played 39 minor league games, as a pitcher, before starting back in 2010. 

This season may have pushed ahead the plan for Mike Rizzo. Nine of the first 10 picks for Washington were pitchers and 20 of the team's 40. 

Round 1 (25): Seth Romero, LHP, Houston
Round 2 (65): Wil Crowe, RHP, South Carolina
Round 3 (103): Nick Raquet, LHP, William & Mary
Round 4 (133): Cole Freeman, 2B, LSU
Round 5 (163): Brigham, Hill, RHP, Texas A&M
Round 6 (193): Kyle Johnston, RHP, Texas
Round 7 (223): Jackson Tetreault, RHP, State College of Florida Manatee
Round 8 (253): Jared Brasher, RHP, Samford
Round 9 (283): Alex Troop, LHP, Michigan State
Round 10 (313): Trey Turner, RHP, Missouri State
Round 11 (343): Justin Connell, OF, American Heritage School
Round 12 (373): Jackson Stoeckinger, LHP, College of Central Florida
Round 13 (403): Eric Senior, OF, Midland College
Round 14 (433): Anthony Peroni, C, Mercer County CC
Round 15 (463): Bryce Montes de Oca, RHP, Missouri
Round 16 (493): Jake Scudder, 1B, Kansas State
Round 17 (523): Jared Johnson, LHP, Palm Beach State
Round 18 (553): Nick Choruby, OF, Texas A&M
Round 19 (583): Jonathan Pryor, OF, Wake Forest
Round 20 (613): Jake Cousins, RHP, Pennsylvania
Round 21 (643): Leif Strom, RHP, Pierce College
Round 22 (673): Nelson Galindez, LHP, Haines City High School
Round 23 (703): Jamori Blash, 1B, Cochise College
Round 24 (733): Tim Richards, SS, Cal State Fullerton
Round 25 (763): David Smith, RHP, Cal State Long Beach
Round 26 (793): Kameron Esthay, OF, Baylor
Round 27 (823): Darren Baker, SS, Jesuit High School
Round 28 (853): Nic Perkins, C, Drury University
Round 29 (883): Alex Dunlap, C, Stanford
Round 30 (913): Austin Guibor, OF, Fresno State
Round 31 (943): Jeremy McKinney, RHP, Indiana State
Round 32 (973): Phil Caulfield, 2B, Loyola Marymount
Round 33 (1,003): Adalberto Carrillo, C, Southern California
Round 34 (1,033): Bennett Sousa, LHP, Virginia
Round 35 (1,063): Jackson Cramer, 1B, West Virginia
Round 36 (1.093): Gabe Klobosits, RHP, Auburn
Round 37 (1,123): Kody Gratkowski, 3B, Fairhope High School
Round 38 (1,153): Jake Boone, SS, Torrey Pines High School
Round 39 (1,183): Kai Nelson, OF, Fieldston High School
Round 40 (1,213): Max Engelbrekt, LHP, Oregon State

Many of these pitchers, and the rest of the players, will never see action in a Washington Nationals uniform, so no bullpen relief is not right around the corner. It does make one wonder though if the parent association's bullpen struggles this year had any affect on their drafting strategy. 

Notable picks include a second Trey Turner from Missouri State, Dusty Baker's son, the cousin of Washington Redskins' quarterback, Kirk Cousins, and their lone position player in their first handful of picks, Cole Freeman.

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner each hit a two-run single in Washington's five-run seventh inning, helping the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday.

Matt Adams added two hits and scored a run as Washington salvaged a split of its four-game set against New York. A preseason favorite to win the NL East and contend for a World Series championship, the disappointing Nationals hit the All-Star break with a 48-48 record, good for third in the division.

Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) pitched six crisp innings in his second straight win. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and two hits, struck out six and walked two.

Jose Reyes drove in Michael Conforto with a fielder's choice in the second, tying it at 1, but Washington grabbed control in the seventh.

Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon opened the inning with walks against Anthony Swarzak (0-2). Tim Peterson then came in and surrendered singles to Adams and Murphy, who came off the bench to hit for Michael A. Taylor.

Jerry Blevins replaced Peterson with two out and runners on second and third. But he hit Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton before Turner's single gave Washington a 6-1 lead.

New York wasted a solid start by Corey Oswalt, who allowed two hits in five innings. The Mets got off to a fast start this year, but hit the break last in the division with a 39-55 record, a percentage point behind fourth-place Miami.

WAITING

A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Class A Potomac. He allowed three runs, struck out seven and walked one. Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled to play five simulated innings in left field at the team's facility in Florida on Monday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the 32-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by a right hip flexor and strained quadriceps, could return as the designated hitter next weekend against the Yankees If he is able to play on consecutive days.

MAKING MOVES

The Nationals recalled right-hander Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Austin Voth, who took the loss in his big league debut Saturday, was sent back to Syracuse.

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Taking a look at the numbers behind the Nationals' three All-Stars

Taking a look at the numbers behind the Nationals' three All-Stars

With a win on Sunday afternoon, the Nationals come into the All-Star break at 48-48. 

That's not great! It's certainly an underperformance given all the expectations, but the season hasn't been without some stellar individual performances . 

Take, for starters, Max Scherzer. Scherzer's on pace to have an even better year than his 2017 Cy Young-winning effort, which is mind-boggling. 

An even-more-refined command is what's made him better this season, as his walk rate is down below seven percent again after creeping up to 7.1 last year. It hasn't affected his strikeout rate, either, which has stayed steady at 34 percent. If the season ended today, it'd be the 4th straight year where he set a career-best in that department. 

Of all starting pitchers, he ranks second in WHIP, and K/BB percent. He has the third-lowest average against (.178) and third-best strikeout percentage (34.5). He's got a top-10 ERA and FIP as well. He's been the best pitcher in baseball this season, and will probably be in the conversation for N.L. MVP as well. 

If only the Nats could just go from Scherzer to Doolittle. The closer stopped walking people, too, and already has 22 saves after ending last year with 24. Had he not been put on the D.L. with a toe injury about a week before the All-Star game, he more than likely would have set his career high in saves before the break. 

He's currently on pace to post the second-best year of his career when it comes to strikeouts, too. He's getting Ks 37.1 percent of the time, which would be the highest since he posted a 37.7 in 2014. Same goes for his K/9. He also has a top-10 ERA and FIP. He's been one of the few relief pitchers that have been consistently reliable through the first half, and the Nats will need his toe to get real healthy real quick. 

And lastly there's Bryce Harper, who you've surely heard is not having an All-Star caliber season. His batting average is hovering around .200, he's striking out more than he has in four years, and he's getting eaten alive by the shift. He's also on pace to have one of his best power-hitting seasons ever and finish with close to 40 home runs, so even his bad years still find a way to be impressive. 

Harper also benefits from being one of the faces of baseball playing in front of his home fans. He's one of the most popular players in the league, and All-Star games find a way to get those people in. An All-Star game in D.C. without him would be objectively less enjoyable, so it was in everyone's interest to have him there. Stars just get the calls sometimes. 

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