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Washington Nationals roster review: Doug Fister

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Washington Nationals roster review: Doug Fister

Age on Opening Day 2016: 32

How acquired: Trade with Tigers, Dec. 2013

MLB service time: 5 years, 58 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $11.4 million

Contract status: Free agent

2015 stats: 25 G, 15 GS, 103 IP, 120 H, 56 R, 48 ER, 14 HR, 24 BB, 63 K, 1.40 WHIP, 5-7, 4.19 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 0.2 WAR

Quotable: "For me, once I'm on the mound, I'm on the mound. It doesn't matter if I'm starting a game or relieving in a game, it doesn't matter. Once the ball is in your hand, it's time for business," Fister on moving to the bullpen for the first time in his career.

2015 analysis: Doug Fister, much like his teammates Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond, did not have the season he hoped for in the final year of his contract. Fister, in fact, had the worst season of his career and it ended up costing him his job in the Nationals' rotation.

It was a remarkable turn of events for the right-hander, who was arguably the team's best pitcher the year before. Fister saw his ERA go up from 2.41 in 2014 all the way to 4.19. He gave up 56 runs in 103 innings in 2015 after allowing 52 total through 164 innings the year before. 

The Nationals' rotation did not live up to expectations this season and perhaps nobody exemplified that more than Fister. He was their rock in his first season in D.C., a model of consistency. Only four times in 25 starts in 2014 did he allow four earned runs or more. He did that eight times in 2015.

By August, Fister was replaced in the rotation by rookie Joe Ross and banished to the Nats' bullpen. Now he enters a crucial offseason with his value significantly diminished.

2016 outlook: Before the 2015 season, it looked like a foregone conclusion that the Nats would extend a qualifying offer to Fister this winter and in turn receive a compensation pick when he signed elsewhere. At this point, though, it looks very unlikely that they will make that offer, as Fister could very well take it given the off-year that he had.

If Fister had hit free agency last offseason, he would have been in line for a lucrative multi-year contract. Now, however, he may be smart to take a one-year, prove-it deal and try to reset for next offseason with the hope of cashing in on a big contract. 

Like Zimmermann, Fister enters a free agent class stocked full of quality starting pitchers. He may be on the outside looking in of the top 10 starters available. That should not bode well for Fister, who some teams may see as a bargain once they peer past the big names like Zack Greinke, David Price and Johnny Cueto.

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

Friday night marks the first second-half game of Major League Baseball's 162-game season. 

The Washington Nationals begin 5.5 games out of the first-place Phillies and host the second-place Braves for a three-game series before traveling to Milwaukee. 

One big piece to Dave Martinez's staff who has been missing since June 8 is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander was activated from the DL and will start on the mound Friday night. 

Ryan Zimmerman was also activated but is not in Martinez's starting lineup. 

Prior to experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder during a June 8 start that forced him out of the game early, Strasburg saw flashes of dominance throughout his 13 starts owning a 3.46 ERA with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Zimmerman hasn't played since May 9 due to a strained right oblique. With the emergence of Matt Adams, it will be interesting to see how Martinez uses both guys throughout the summer. 

Here is a look at Friday night's official lineup: 

According to Byron Kerr, Zimmerman is still happy to be back, despite not being in the starting lineup. 

Catch the Nationals hosting the Braves Friday at 7:05 p.m. on MASN2. 

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

It doesn't have quite the same feel as Opening Day, but the first games after the MLB All-Star break certainly have their own unique excitement to them.

Teams are jockeying for playoff position, and the trade deadline is rapidly approaching. The Nats have struggled through the first half, but are still within striking distance of a spot in the 2018 postseason, so every game matters.

To help get you ready for the rest of the 2018 regular season, our baseball writers have provided a couple of bold predictions which are sure to be proven wrong by August.

Bold predictions for the second half of the 2018 MLB season:

Ryan Wormeli: 1) Despite the consensus top three teams in baseball all residing in the American League, this year’s World Series champion will be a National League squad.

2) Max Scherzer does NOT win the National League Cy Young award, even though most fans agree he has the best statistical season.

Cam Ellis: 1) Bryce Harper ends up with 45 home runs this season.

2) Koda Glover eventually gets the 7th inning spot.

Michaela Johnson: 1) Nationals win the NL East (I know this VERY bold but like I said I have high expectations).

2) Tanner Roark will get back on top of his game.

Tyler Byrum: 1) The Milwaukee Brewers will drop out of the playoff hunt. 

Every year the Brewers seem to be close to running away with the NL Central. Then, once we get closer to the All-Star break and move beyond they go silent. It’s getting quite ridiculous at this point. Last year they had 50 wins in the first half, finished with only 86.

2) Philadelphia will make a trade deadline acquisition, but it will not get them over the hump. 

There are just too many issues with the Phillies; starting pitching behind Aaron Nola, consistent batting as a team, and the bullpen. They’ve done a fantastic job to piece together a 53-42 record and sit atop the division, but it will be tough to maintain it. 

Right now, they are almost the exact opposite of the Nationals.