Nationals

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito took star turns in getting the World Series off to a rollicking start.

Sandoval hit three home runs and joined Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols as the only boppers to do it in the Series, and the San Francisco Giants jolted Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Wednesday night in Game 1.

Left off the 2010 World Series roster by the champion Giants, Zito shut out the Tigers until Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera's RBI single in the sixth. The Giants won for the 14th straight time with Zito starting.

NEW YORK (AP) - Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he expects Alex Rodriguez to be his everyday third baseman next season despite benching the slugger several times during the postseason.

As for the rest of New York's lineup for 2013, Girardi is less certain.

Ace CC Sabathia is going to have his left elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews. Several key players are headed for free agency and Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are two aging stars dealing with major injuries.

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Islanders finally have a new home and it's in Brooklyn, the borough that is suddenly a hot bed of pro sports 54 years after baseball's Dodgers headed west.

``It's a new place and it's only 35 minutes away by train,'' team owner Charles Wang said at a news conference Wednesday. ``Come and join us and see hockey.''

After seven months of negotiations, and offers to move the team out of New York, Wang announced that the Islanders will relocate about 25 miles west once their lease expires at Nassau Coliseum after the 2014-15 season.

Since the day the Islanders entered the NHL in 1972, the Coliseum in Uniondale has been the place for them. It's where they grabbed the hockey spotlight, outshined the big, bad Rangers, and won the Stanley Cup four straight times from 1980-83.

But on Wednesday, the future became all about Brooklyn.

NEW YORK (AP) - NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says it looks as if a full-82 game schedule ``is not going to be a reality,'' as the lockout nears its seventh week.

Speaking at a news conference announcing the New York Islanders' move from Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 2015, Bettman seemed resigned to looking at a shortened season with the NHL and the players' association still at odds after months of negotiations.

Bettman stated, in making the NHL's most recent offer, that a deal needed to be in place by Thursday for the season to begin Nov. 2 and allow for each team to play a full 82-game slate. With no negotiations scheduled, reaching a deal in one day appears very unlikely.

PRO FOOTBALL

The players' union and the four players suspended in the Saints' bounties case filed motions to have former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue removed from hearing their appeals.

They asked in U.S. District Court in New Orleans that Tagliabue recuse himself because of a conflict of interest, and also asked for a neutral arbitrator to be appointed by the court.

The NFL said it would oppose Tagliabue stepping aside.

NEW YORK (AP) - NFL great Lawrence Taylor, reliving a night to forget, admitted that he paid for sex with a ``very, very pretty'' prostitute in 2010 but denied accusations that he ignored obvious signs she was a teen runaway in distress.

Taylor, 53, told a Manhattan jury at a civil trial that he had a history of hiring women for ``company'' when on the road but didn't expect them to automatically have sex with him.

``I still like the chase,'' Taylor testified. But he added, ``I like to stack the odds in my favor. ... I don't like to work too hard.''

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Browns starting linebacker Scott Fujita will be placed on injured reserve with a neck injury, ending his stormy season - and perhaps his football career.

Fujita, one four players suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal, was inactive the past two games. He last started on Oct. 7 in a game against the New York Giants.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Mario Williams is not expected to miss any games after the Buffalo Bills high-priced defensive end had what the team called ``a procedure'' to relieve discomfort in his injured left wrist.

Coach Chan Gailey provided the update, saying he expects Williams to return to practice next week once the Bills return from their bye weekend off. Gailey, was otherwise, very short on specifics in sharing any other details regarding the status of the NFL's highest-paid defensive player.

NEW YORK (AP) - There will be more pink visible on the field during the Dolphins-Jets game this weekend.

The NFL announced that officials will be using pink penalty flags for Sunday's game after an 11-year-old wrote Commissioner Roger Goodell with the suggestion.

In support of breast cancer awareness, pink has been highly visible this month, from coaches' caps to players' wristbands and cleats, and even officials' whistles. Dante Cano, a fifth-grader from Marlboro, N.J., then offered the idea of pink penalty flags. The NFL agreed and invited Cano and his family to MetLife Stadium; they will present the penalty flags to the officials before the game.

CYCLING

NEW YORK (AP) - Lance Armstrong's results erased from the record books will likely include his 868th-place finish at the 2006 New York City Marathon.

Marathon organizer New York Road Runners said in a statement Wednesday it expected to wipe out his times once any potential appeals play out, since the race follows USADA rulings.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) - UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad injured his right shoulder during practice.

A team spokesman said Muhammad was scheduled to undergo an MRI in the evening, and would be reevaluated on Thursday.

PRO BASKETBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are sitting out of the Los Angeles Lakers' preseason game against the Clippers, who are giving Chris Paul a rest on Wednesday night.

Bryant has a strained and bruised right foot, while Paul was hit accidentally by a teammate in practice.

Coach Mike Brown says he wanted to rest Howard, who was recovering from general soreness after his Lakers debut on Sunday.

Brown says Bryant won't play in San Diego against the Kings on Thursday night, when the Lakers conclude their preseason schedule. Bryant missed an exhibition game earlier this month to rest a sore right shoulder.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, helped off the field and taken to a hospital during Saturday's game, says he is fine and will be ready to go against Penn State.

OBITUARY

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) - Jeff Blatnick, who overcame cancer to win a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 Summer Olympics and went on to a career as a sports commentator and motivational speaker, died Wednesday in New York state at age 55.

Officials at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, N.Y., said he died there of heart failure.

Blatnick was a high school state champion in suburban Albany in the mid-1970s and was a two-time Division II National champion and three-time Division II All-American at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

SOCCER

PARIS (AP) - Powerhouse clubs Real Madrid, AC Milan, Manchester City and Arsenal lost Champions League games, while Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 2-0 victory at Dinamo Zagreb.

Nine-time European champion Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund; seven-time champion Milan's woeful season continued with a 1-0 loss at Malaga; City blew a 1-0 lead on the way to a 3-1 loss at Ajax; and Arsenal was humbled in a 2-0 home loss to German club Schalke.

TENNIS

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) - Roger Federer edged Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-3, 6-7 (6), 7-5 to advance to the quarterfinals of his hometown Swiss Indoors tournament.

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) - John Isner of the United States lost to David Goffin 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 in the second round at the Valencia Open.

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

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USA Today Sports Images

Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

We're just a couple of weeks away from the midway point of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, which means many casual fantasy baseball players have collectively turned their attention to the gridiron. This is good news for those of you still interested, because outside of the truly competitive leagues, it's about to get much easier to navigate the waiver wire and make winning trades.

That said, we'll still be here all season long, providing advice for anyone looking to gain a competitive edge in their fantasy leagues. There's a lot to digest in the upcoming week, as many teams (including the Washington Nationals) will play a full seven game slate. It's an especially great time for stars in baseball, as a whopping six players are on pace to record seasons with 8.7 Wins Above Replacement or higher, but there's still plenty of great options beyond the obvious guys.

NOTE: Don’t expect to see guys like Bryce Harper or Trea Turner mentioned too often. They are clear must-starts every week. Don’t overthink it.

Week 12 (6/18-6/24)

One Nationals pitcher to start: Max Scherzer

We won't often include a guy on the level of Mad Max in our recommendations, but consider this a statement against the other pitchers. With Stephen Strasburg on the DL, Gio Gonzalez is really the only other startable option in the rotation, and while he's a fine play against the Orioles, he's not a sure thing. Scherzer is the best pitcher in baseball, so when in doubt, it's easy to fall back on his name. For now, feel free to use Gonzalez if needed, but the only clear, recommendable one this week is Scherzer.

One Nationals position player to start: Adam Eaton, OF

Consider this your reminder to not get cute and just start Adam Eaton whenever he's healthy. When he can manage to avoid time on the disabled list, he's consistenly been one of the best players in Washington, and an absolute must-start in fantasy. Yes, he's hitting "just" .286 in five games since returning from the DL, but there's no reason to believe he won't bounce back to one of the top hitters in the National League once he gets back in the swing of things. As long as he's hitting at the top of the Washington lineup, he'll be one of the top run producers in baseball.

One Nationals pitcher to sit: Erick Fedde

We likely would have advised against starting Fedde regardless of matchup, given his relative struggles in his two starts with the Nats this season. He's got a nice 9:2 strikeout-to-walk rate, but the ERA sits at an unsightly 5.91. What makes matters worse is the matchup; Fedde is once again slated to face the vaunted New York Yankees lineup. In New York, he allowed two home runs in just five innings, and while Nats park isn't the hitter's haven that Yankee Stadium is, the sluggers in their lineup make for a daunting matchup in any city.

Fedde probably isn't owned in most leagues, and there's no reason for that to change, even with his spot in the rotation likely secure as long as Strasburg isn't throwing.. 

One Nationals player to sit: Daniel Murphy, 2B

Nats fans were understandably rejoicing when Daniel Murphy returned to the lineup last week. It's always fun when one of your stars is back on the field after missing so much time. Still, like most players who haven't face in-game pitching in several months, Murphy has been slow to re-adjust at the plate. He's recorded just two hits in 15 at-bats, has only walked once, and has yet to notch an extra-base hit of any kind. His OPS is below-.200, and while no one should expect that to last, there's no need to rush him back into your lineups either.

It would be pretty tempting to slot Murphy into your 2B or middle infield spot now that he's healthy, since you likely drafted him to be one of your studs, but given his lengthy absence, the nature of his original injury, and his slow start since returning, it's probably a good idea to leave him on your bench for a week or two. Once he starts driving the ball again, he can start to return value for you, but there's no reason to let him drag you down in the meantime.

Any 2-start pitchers for the Nationals this week?

Given that the rotation is currently in a state of flux, we can't confidently say any starter will get two starts. Fedde looks like the most likely candidate, but as we outlined above, he's still a pitcher you want to avoid for now.

Any 2-start pitchers worth streaming around MLB this week?

One of my favorite sleepers this week is Domingo German. One of the most surprising stats in all of baseball right now is that among starting pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, German has the second best swinging strike rate, behind only Max Scherzer. Swinging strike rate is a great stat to use when projecting future strikeout potential, and German's 15.9% is mighty impressive. German has a start at home against the Mariners and on the road against the Rays, so while it's not a cakewalk week, it's not especially daunting either. As an added bonus for those in points leagues, German is RP-eligible, giving you some extra roster flexibility.

The walks are a little high (21 in 53.3 innings) which has let to an elevated WHIP and ERA, but it's a good rule of thumb to follow the strikeouts when identifiying quality fantasy pitchers, and considering most of the two-start guys this week are obvious studs who are certainly already owned in your league, German is the exact type of option you should be looking to stream.

One player you might not realize you should pick up: John Hicks, C/1B (Tigers) 

This is a sneaky move, the kind that could easily get overlooked in most fantasy leagues but could provide a great return on investment. With Miguel Cabrera's unfortunate season-ending biceps injury providing an opening in the everyday lineup in Detroit, Hicks (who is catcher elgibile) will be taking most of the team's at-bats at first base going forward. While he's probably not worth rostering as a first baseman in most leagues, catcher is a notorious black hole in fantasy baseball in recent years, and this season might be the wost yet.

Hicks will maintain catcher eligibility all season long, yet he'll play the far less demanding first base every day, giving him less wear and tear on his legs, less concern with running the pitching staff, and most importantly, regular at-bats in a surprisingly not-atrocious lineup. Hicks isn't the type of guy you'd refer to as a league-winner prior to Opening Day, but he could make a real impact on a championship roster in the second half of the season.

One player you might not realize you should drop: Jake Junis, SP (Royals) 

Junis isn't the type of pitcher that I'd classify as a must-drop, but you shouldn't hesitate to move on if there's a clear better option on the waiver wire. Junis started the season strong and looked like a legitimate breakout player, but he's allowed six earned runs in each of his last two starts. A poor two-start stretch isn't the end of the world, which is why I'm not suggest that everyone jump ship regardless of team context. That said, he doesn't have the pedigree of a top pitching prospect, and he plays for one of the five worst teams in baseball, meaning you can't expect many wins even when Junis is throwing well.

At the very least, you prbably should leave Junis on the bench for the time being, and again, if there's an option you've been eyeing on the waiver wire, now is the time to strike. Don't feel bad if that means leaving Junis behind to free up a roster spot for your team.

MORE NATS NEWS:

- Nice Threads: MLB reveals All-Star jerseys
- Rankings Update: Where did the Nats fall?
- On the Farm: Latest Nats prospect report

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Aaron Holiday

School: UCLA
Position: Point guard
Age: 21 (turns 22 in Sept.)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 187
Wingspan: 6-8
Max vertical: 33

2017/18 stats: 20.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG%, 42.9 3PT% (2.7 3PT/6.2 3PA), 82.8 FT%
Player comparison: Darren Collison
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 24th, Bleacher Report 23rd, Sports Illustrated 23rd

5 things to know:

*Holiday played big minutes in all three seasons for the Bruins. As a junior, he broke out as an elite scorer, averaging 20.3 points while also dishing 5.8 assists per game. Holiday scored in a variety of ways, including at the free throw line where he averaged 5.8 attempts per game and knocked them down at 82.8 percent.

*He is a terrific three-point shooter, one of the best in this draft class based on his college numbers. He hit 42.9 percent of his shots and on 6.2 attempts per game. Holiday shot 42.2 percent from long range in his three-year college career and never shot below 41 percent in a season. He had some games where teams just couldn't stop him from long range. He made four threes or more in 13 college games. Twice he went 5-for-5 and he once made six threes against USC.

*Though he has the skillset to play off the ball as a shooting guard, his size will limit him at the NBA level. Holiday is just under 6-foot-1 in shoes and doesn't have the vertical leap to make up for it. He does, however, have a plus wingspan. At this point, Holiday seems to be solely a point guard, though as long as he's good at the position there is nothing wrong with that.

*Holiday worked out for the Wizards at Capital One Arena. He was part of their first week of predraft workouts and by all accounts had an impressive visit. He hit a lot of shots and fared well in the interview process.

*Holiday has two brothers currently in the NBA. Jrue is a former All-Star who starts at point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. Justin is a shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls. His sister-in-law, Lauren, is a former member of the U.S. women's national soccer team.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards already have a point guard in John Wall, so Holiday would have no long-term path to starting. That said, he would shore up a need the Wizards have been trying to address for years.

Backup point guard has been a real void for the Wizards for most of Wall's tenure. This past season they tried out all sorts of options between Tomas Satoransky, Tim Frazier, Ramon Sessions and Ty Lawson. Though Satoransky remains on the roster, the Wizards don't appear content with their depth at the position.

Holiday's ability to hit threes is very attractive to the Wizards who could conceivably play him off-the-ball alongside Wall, or even Satoransky. Given Wall (6-4) and Satoransky (6-7) are taller than most point guards, they could theoretically guard shooting guards on the other end.

Holiday would add smarts and shooting to the Wizards' bench in the short-term. In the long-term, he could help lengthen Wall's career by taking some of his workload away and also give the Wizards more options once Wall enters his 30s.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

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