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Would the Nationals be a fit for Troy Tulowitzki?

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Would the Nationals be a fit for Troy Tulowitzki?

Colorado Rockies superstar Troy Tulowitzki has been in the middle of trade rumors for quite some time now, but a recent quote from his agent, Paul Cohen, to the New York Post saying he might ask to be dealt has speculation ramping up.

Tulowitzki cleared the air with reporters soon after he spoke with Cohen and says he would never demand a trade. We'll take Tulo at his word, but that will not stop the rumors as Colorado once again wavers in last place this season.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote a story on Friday looking at the best fits and possible landing spots for Tulowitzki. On the top of that list? The Washington Nationals.

Now, Heyman doesn't suggest he is listing the teams - 11 in total - in any sort of order, that the Nationals would either be the most logical or most likely destination for Tulowitzki. Regardless, the connection has Nats fans quite fired up.

Heyman points out how Mike Rizzo "has at different times made it clear to Colorado that they'd want to be involved if Tulowitzki talk really got serious." He also notes how Ian Desmond, their current shortstop, is a free agent after this season. Throw in the fact the Nats have pitching and the Rockies do not, and dots can be connected.

On the face of it, a deal between the Rockies and Nationals would seem unlikely. The asking price has to be astronomical and the Nationals already have one of the best shortstops in the business on their roster.

A deal this big would also seem more likely to happen in the offseason. Rizzo has shown a penchant for making big surprises, but not midseason. That, at least up until this point, has not been his style.

But prices to pay and not having a need hasn't stopped Rizzo in the past. Many said the same things this offseason when rumors broke out about the Nationals and Max Scherzer. Then they signed him.

And much like Scherzer, it's hard to argue a guy like Tulowitzki wouldn't make the Nationals better. Scherzer instantly became the Nats' best pitcher when he signed. Tulowitzki would immediately become their best player.

Tulowitzki's contract is also, depending on his health, not that bad considering his talent level as a player. The four-time All-Star is due $129 million through 2021 - a span of seven seasons - and the final year is a team option.

Tulowitzki is owed $20 million this year and in each of the next four seasons. That's less than Jayson Werth will make annually through 2017. Werth is a very good player, but Tulowitzki is a great one.

To get Tulowitzki, the Nationals would likely have to part with a collection of their top pitching prospects and maybe even some big league talent. It would be a blockbuster deal, no question about it.

The likelihood of that happening, especially midseason, would seem very slim. But it wouldn't be the first time the Nationals pulled off a shocking move.

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Max Scherzer reaches 300 season strikeout mark in Nationals win over Marlins

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USA Today

Max Scherzer reaches 300 season strikeout mark in Nationals win over Marlins

With a bottle of bubbly at his feet and a baseball with the inscription "300 Ks" in a case in his locker, Max Scherzer allowed himself a moment to consider what he'd just accomplished.

"It was something I dreamed of, reaching this mark," Scherzer said, "because I know how hard it is to consistently go out there and strike guys out."

Scherzer became the 17th pitcher since 1900 to strike out 300 batters in a season, reaching that milestone by fanning 10 in seven innings Tuesday night during the Washington Nationals' otherwise meaningless 9-4 victory over the Miami Marlins.

"A big number," Nationals catcher Matt Wieters said, "when you're talking about strikeouts."

Scherzer (18-7) lowered his ERA to 2.53 by allowing one run in seven innings as he bids for a third consecutive NL Cy Young Award; he also won the 2013 honor in the AL for Detroit. He threw 70 of his 100 pitches for strikes, gave up five hits and didn't walk a batter.

The righty reached 300 by getting Austin Dean to whiff on an 85-mph slider at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat for the second out of the seventh. Scherzer pumped his fist while much of the announced crowd of 26,483 -- including his wife, Erica May-Scherzer -- joined players in the home dugout and home bullpen by saluting the ace with a standing ovation.

"I definitely wanted to do it here at home," said the 34-year-old Scherzer, who is currently slated to make one more start, in Sunday's season finale at Colorado. "The fans -- unbelievable support."

They would chant, "Let's go, Max!" They would rise and cheer when he had two strikes on a hitter. They would emit a collective "Awwwwwww" when a pitch near the plate was ruled a ball -- or even when a pitch resulted in any sort of out that wouldn't add to his strikeout total.

Sweating profusely on a muggy, 78-degree evening, Scherzer had all of his repertoire working, from the 97-mph fastballs he threw past Lewis Brinson for strikeouts in the fourth and seventh innings, to the 84-mph changeup that JT Riddle missed for a K leading off the game.

As is Scherzer's wont, he stalked around the grass after strikeouts.

Asked whether he considered pulling his famously intense pitcher before No. 300, Nationals manager Dave Martinez laughed.

"I value my life," Martinez joked. "He was going to get 10 today, somehow."

Scherzer now has 10 strikeouts or more in a majors-high 18 of his 33 starts in 2018, and 82 such games for his career.

He got Dean by throwing fastball after fastball with a full count, then getting him to chase a slider.

"That's probably where you can see Max has become a more complete pitcher than he was earlier in his career," Wieters said, "where he was able to go with the slider and execute it and realize that with where that fastball was starting, (Dean is) going to be way out in front of it."

Dean's take?

"He's the best pitcher in baseball," the Marlins rookie said.

The case certainly can be made. This is, after all, a guy with two no-hitters and a 20-strikeout game on his resume, along with the Cy Youngs.

Scherzer entered Tuesday ranked No. 1 in the NL in eight significant statistical categories, including strikeouts, strikeouts-to-walks ratio (5.69), opponents' batting average (.188) and innings pitched (213 2/3). He was also tied for No. 1 in two others: wins and quality starts (27).

The expectation is that Scherzer and New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom are the main Cy Young contenders in the NL. DeGrom is 9-9 with a 1.77 ERA and single-season records of 23 consecutive quality starts and 28 starts in a row allowing three or fewer earned runs.

"There's more to pitching than just striking guys out," Scherzer said, "but also, it is a big reason why you can have success."

RENDON AND HARPER

Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon hit a three-run shot in the first inning off Jeff Brigham (0-4), increasing his season totals to 24 homers and 90 RBIs and extending his streak of reaching base to 33 straight games. Rendon added an RBI double in the seventh, when Washington batted around and tacked on six runs. ... Bryce Harper scored twice to surpass 100 runs for the season; he already had a career-best 100 RBIs and more than 100 walks. Harper can become a free agent in the offseason, so Wednesday's series finale could be the 2015 NL MVP's last home game at Nationals Park.

UP NEXT

The Nationals will give 26-year-old RHP Kyle McGowin his first start in the majors Wednesday. Miami will start LHP Wei-Yin Chen (6-11, 4.66 ERA).

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Max Scherzer reaches 300 strikeouts for the season

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USA Today

Max Scherzer reaches 300 strikeouts for the season

Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer has become the 17th major league pitcher since 1900 to strike out at least 300 batters in a season.

Scherzer reached the milestone by getting Austin Dean of the Miami Marlins to whiff on an 85 mph slider for the second out of the seventh inning Tuesday night. That was Scherzer's 10th K of the game.

He has 10 strikeouts or more in a majors-high 18 of his 33 starts in 2018.

Scherzer entered Tuesday 17-7 with a and 2.57 ERA as he tries to earn a third consecutive NL Cy Young Award with Washington. He also won the AL honor in 2013 for the Detroit Tigers.

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