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What will Nats lineup look like now?

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What will Nats lineup look like now?

The Nationals club that takes the field tonight at PNC Park in Pittsburgh will look mighty different from the one we saw only 36 hours ago on Sunday Night Baseball. Ryan Zimmerman will be back at his familiar third base. Adam LaRoche should be back at his familiar first base. Jayson Werth won't be in right field. But Bryce Harper will.

Rarely does a first-place club experience so much significant turnover from one game to the next, but such is the unusual situation the Nationals find themselves in as they open a six-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The question now becomes how Davey Johnson chooses to arrange his new-look lineup.

If the veteran manager decides to stick with what got him here, he'll probably put Zimmerman back in the No. 3 hole and LaRoche back in the cleanup spot. But what then becomes of Harper, who debuted as the Nationals' seventh hitter but quickly ascended to the third spot while Zimmerman was on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation?

Perhaps Johnson could bump the 19-year-old down to the No. 5 position, behind Zimmerman and LaRoche. But that doesn't seem to take the most advantage of his skill-set. Harper, as we've already seen, isn't just a power hitter. He's an all-around offensive threat, just as likely to beat you with his legs as his bat.

Here's one possible solution: Have Harper bat second. Johnson is probably going to be looking for a new No. 2 hitter with Steve Lombardozzi (who capably filled in for Zimmerman at third base) returning to the bench, and with Danny Espinosa looking more comfortable farther down in the lineup after struggling in the 2-hole to open the season.

Harper as a No. 2 hitter would make sense in a lot of ways. He'd slot in nicely between Ian Desmond and Zimmerman, offering up both the ability to get on base and to drive in guys who get on in front of him. He clearly has a good eye at the plate, works the count and reaches base at a healthy clip (his OBP is .424 right now), all important qualities for a No. 2 hitter. And you probably wouldn't find too many opposing managers wanting to pitch around the kid just to take their chances with Zimmerman.

Here, then, is what tonight's potential lineup could look like...

SS Ian Desmond
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
LF Roger Bernadina
P Edwin Jackson

OK, it's not a perfect lineup by any stretch of the imagination. And the drop-off in production from the top four spots to the bottom five spots is pretty dramatic.

But given what Johnson has to work with at the moment, it might just make the most sense.

We'll find out for sure later this afternoon once the Nationals report to PNC Park.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

Following a dicey matchup between the Nats and Braves Friday night which featured a heated argument between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are getting a much-needed opportunity to regroup.

The Washington Nationals' official Twitter account announced that Saturday evening's matchup will be postponed due to inclement weather just after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The Nationals had planned to host "JMU Night" at the ballpark as a part of their "College Day" series, and due to more forecasted inclement weather Sunday, the Nationals decided to call the game off sooner rather than later.

The Nationals have yet to announce when the game will be made up.

If Sunday's game is played as scheduled, Max Scherzer will start.

This post will be updated when more information regarding a makeup date has been announced.

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