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Washington Nationals? More like National League All-Star team

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USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals? More like National League All-Star team

The MLB has released updated All-Star voting results for the National League and it looks essentially like the Washington Nationals depth chart. 

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Nationals superstar Bryce Harper continues to lead the way with the most votes, tallying over two million.

The Nationals infield also stands out in the voting results. Ryan Zimmerman has rebounded this season and turned into one of the top hitters in the league and Daniel Murphy continues to play at an elite level.

Zimmerman is pacing all first basemen with over one million votes. The 32-year-old leads the N.L. in batting average (.365) and OPS (1.105), is third in home runs (17) and sixth in RBIs (49). With a month until the All-Star Break, Zimemrman has already surpassed his 2016 season totals in both RBIs and HRs. 

Murphy, like Zimmerman, leads his position with 1.7 million votes, over 500,000 votes more than Javier Baez of the Cubs. Murphy ranks fourth in the N.L. in hits (77) and eigth in doubles (17). 

Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, and Matt Wieters are all in the top five and can still make an All-star appearance with two weeks remaining in the voting period.

The next NL voting update will be on Monday, June 19th and the voting polls officially close on June 29th. Don't be surprised if much of the Nats starting lineup is a part of that final decision.

The 2017 MLB All-Star Game takes place on July 11 at Marlins Park in Miami.

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Ryan Zimmerman is ready to rejoin Nationals, but in what capacity?

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USA Today Sports Images

Ryan Zimmerman is ready to rejoin Nationals, but in what capacity?

Key for Ryan Zimmerman was the simplistic act of staying on his grumpy feet for nine innings. The idea had been elusive for weeks. Zimmerman last played a full baseball game on April 27. Plantar fasciitis sent him to this fate, and each time he progressed, an ache pulled him back.

Monday, Zimmerman played nine innings for Double-A Harrisburg. He picked up two hits, but more vital was the ability to play a full game his third time on the field in four days. Zimmerman played Friday and Saturday before taking Sunday off. Tuesday becomes decision day: is Zimmerman ready to join the team Wednesday or does he have to wait? He'll wait at least another day since he is in the Senators' lineup as the designated hitter Tuesday.

There's a benefit to waiting. Washington goes to Detroit for interleague play this weekend. That affords them a chance to use the designated hitter and a window to play both Howie Kendrick and Zimmerman throughout the series without greatly taxing either.

Bringing Zimmerman back sooner also has the benefit of putting his glove on the field and expanding bench options for manager Davey Martinez. The veteran can be protected in a rotation at first base. The Nationals have Brian Dozier hitting and fielding well. Kendrick hits line drives whenever he is in the lineup. Matt Adams provides a powerful matchup option. This is how things were supposed to work from the start of the season. But, they did not come to order until late June.

Zimmerman's injury has also decided the fate of his $18 million club option for next season. It has graduated from unlikely to no chance. Though, he appears open to coming back at a much lower price. Zimmerman's body has forced him into a position of being a part-time player only, at this stage. He said last week his body "felt great" outside of the plantar fasciitis issue in his foot. Don't be surprised if he and the Nationals work something out for one more season.

For now, the club has to decide when Zimmerman will be back on the field. If he felt good Tuesday following another rehabilitation game, he could be ready as soon as Wednesday. Which prompts another decision: Do they release spirit animal Gerardo Parra to make space? Would they entertain a change for Michael A. Taylor? Something has to give if Zimmerman is finally ready.

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Nationals calling up reliever Jonny Venters

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Harrisburg Senators/Sam Getty

Nationals calling up reliever Jonny Venters

The Nationals are calling up veteran left-handed reliever Jonny Venters to join the team Tuesday, according to a source.

Venters, 34, has undergone three Tommy John surgeries in between his five seasons in the major leagues. Venters entered the league in 2010 and was dominant before his first ulnar collateral ligament tear. Washington signed him May 29, then sent him to Double-A Harrisburg. Venters put together a 1.29 ERA in seven innings with the Senators.

Also joining the bullpen Tuesday is veteran Fernando Rodney. Calling up both will force the Nationals to make a 25-man roster move. Washington is likely to send down Kyle McGowin. It also needs to open a 40-man roster spot. Transferring reliever Austen Williams to the 60-day disabled list would accomplish that.

Washington's maligned bullpen comes into play Tuesday with the major league's second-worst ERA after spending the majority of the season as the league's worst  bullpen.

Venters' promotion was first reported by 106.7 The Fan.

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