Wire Taps: Washington Nationals' Second-Half Just One Day Away... Is It Friday Night Yet?

DENVER, CO - JUNE 27: Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann #27 of the Washington Nationals delivers to home plate during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 27, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

• You've made it this far, just hold on. The first game of the second-half is just a little over twenty-four hours away and as an added bonus, you get Jordan Zimmermann vs Josh Johnson in the Nats/Marlins' first game back on Friday night. The All-Star Game was nice and all with several Washington Nationals on the roster for once, but now that home field advantage is guaranteed for the National League, we get back to games that really-really count... and hundreds of Strasburg innings limit articles, all of which are sure to offer unique approaches the Nationals can or should have taken to ensure that they'll have their 23-year-old ace available should they make a run at the postseason for the first time in their rebooted existence in the nation's capital. There hasn't been postseason baseball in Washington, D.C. since the first Senators last made the World Series back in 1933... Can the Nationals hold on? Davey Johnson says anything short of a pennant is a disappointment. Let's get started already... Until they start back up, you're stuck with links, and they start... wait for it... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "The man who oversees baseball's best pitching staff does not care for the position's most glamorous statistic. In fact the thought of it makes Steve McCatty recoil." - "Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty believes fewer K's equals more W's, and so far so good" - Les Carpenter, Yahoo! Sports

• NATS BEAT:

• "By McCatty's comments it would seem Jordan Zimmermann is his most prized pupil." - "McCatty: 'Strikeouts are bull****'" - Chase Hughes, CSNWashington.com

• "The Nationals have a high chance of making the playoffs, according to prognosticators, and are among the top handful of teams expected to win the World Series based on sport betting odds." - "Las Vegas oddsmakers are high on the Nationals’ playoff chances" - James Wagner, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "Obviously, the staff as a whole was the best in baseball. Individually, there were a number of fantastic pitchers, both starters and relievers..." - "Midseason report card: Pitching" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "It'd be nice to add a Denard Span or a Justin Upton, but where would you put him? And how much would you need to give up in order to get him on board?" - "Nationals Pastime: We're talkin' trade" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "That was long before Natitude, long before 'that’s a clown question, bro' and certainly way before the All-Star Game decided home-field advantage in the World Series." - "Better buckle up, MLB's second half is going to be a wild ride" - Jon Krawczynski, Washington Times

• "It may be the right thing to do. I believe it is. But that won't quiet the deafening roar that will accompany the move." - "Making an ace disappear" - Thom Loverro, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "'I have no clue how many innings I'm going to throw this year,' [Strasburg] said. 'I've answered that question multiple times, and nobody's said anything to me.'" - "Strasburg dilemma looms for 1st-place Nationals" - Joseph White, AP/WTOP.com

• "The offense needs to be better than 20th in the league if Washington wants to win a World Series, and Werth (broken wrist) is the best option to push them forward when he returns next month." - "Nationals midseason grades and players to watch" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "The pitching led the way early this season, as Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos and Michael Morse succumbed to injuries and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman battled shoulder issues." - "Nationals among Major League Baseball's first-half surprises" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "'I really enjoyed my time there,' Dunn said. 'I really enjoyed the people. There’s no hard feelings.'" - "Adam Dunn looks back fondly on Nationals tenure" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "Drew Storen's pending return to the Nationals' bullpen was supposed to be neat and tidy." - "2nd half storylines: Closer controversy?" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "When the second half of the Nationals' season begins on Friday, they'll have another tough and telling portion of their schedule waiting for them right out of the gates." - "Nationals Pastime: Taking a look ahead" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "How could that be? Harper’s supposed to be a brash, cocky punk who carries himself without regard for anyone, right?" - "Stars on board with way Harper approaches game" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Midterms: Grading the Nats offense" - WTOP.com

• "It won't hurt that outfielder Jayson Werth (broken wrist) and closer Drew Storen (elbow surgery) are close to returning -- Storen possibly as soon as next week." - "Nationals ready to make run at playoffs in the second half" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "The Nationals and Werth have targeted Aug. 1 for his return. That may be a bit too optimistic..." - "2nd half storylines: Werth's return" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "The sole source of peace in families, countries and the world is altruism – love and compassion."

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Short Season Auburn: "The Auburn Doubledays (15-7) used a six-run seventh inning to pull ahead of and defeat the Aberdeen Ironbirds (9-14) on Wednesday night, 9-5 at Ripken Stadium." - "Doubledays take game one at Aberdeen 9-5" - Auburn Doubledays News

Class-A Short Season Auburn: "Auburn will travel over 900 miles over this three-game set with the [Aberdeen] Ironbirds and then a trip to Connecticut to play the Tigers." - "Doubledays start road trip with win" - Ben Meyers, The Auburn Citizen

Class-A Hagerstown: "The Hagerstown Suns, Single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, are pleased to announce that outfielder Steven Souza, Jr. has been named the South Atlantic League, (SAL) Player of the Week for July 2-8, 2012." - "Souza, Jr. Named SAL Player of the Week" - Hagerstown Suns News

Class-A Hagerstown: "Suns starting pitcher Kylin Turnbull kept the Suns within reach, pitching six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits in a no-decision." - "Suns Come Alive Late, Jump Grasshoppers, 4-3" - Hagerstown Suns News

• "Carlos Alvarez, the player formerly know as Smiley Gonzalez, was moved up this week to Class A Hagerstown from Class A Auburn, the Nationals’ rookie ball affiliate." - "The former Smiley Gonzalez moves up to Hagerstown" - James Wagner, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

Class-A Potomac: "A David Freitas one-out double scored Blake Kelso and Ricky Hague to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead." - "P-Nats Fall to Blue Rocks 6-2" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: "The weekend series is loaded with three giveaways, a fireworks show, scout sleepover, and Chien-Ming Wang expected to start game one of the doubleheader Friday for the Senators." - "Senators Home for Five Games in Four Days this Weekend" - Harrisburg Senators News

• "Chris Rahl and Erik Davis made contributions, but in the end, the Eastern division beat the Western division All-Stars 5-4 in the Double-A Eastern League Midsummer Classic from Reading, Pa." - "Nelo takes loss in Eastern League All-Star game; Souza earns SAL weekly honor" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

Triple-A Syracuse: "It’s time once again for the game which stocks its closet with hangers you can’t steal…….(Third) Rate the IL Hotel! Here’s your host for (Third) Rate the IL Hotel…..Jason Benetti!" - "(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: Durham" - Inside the Chiefs

• "Thursday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "'Especially Millar with those highlights,' Harper joked about Millar’s blonde tips. 'That’s terrible. Isn’t he, like, 46?'" - "Bryce Harper makes fun of Kevin Millar’s hair" - Sarah Kogod, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• "July 12, 1901 - For the first time in 10 days, the Nationals win a game, halting an 8 game losing skid. At Oriole Park in Baltimore, Washington outguns John McGraw‘s Orioles, 14-12." - "This Date in Washington Senators History – Washington outguns John McGraw’s Orioles, 14-12" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "VIDEO: Bryce Harper explains his gold cleats" - NatsEnquirer

• "For a few weeks after Ramos went down Jesus Flores played capably. But the past month has been brutal for him." - "Things to Watch" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "I watched more of this year’s All-Star Game than I have in years. First I had to watch until Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg had their chance to pitch. Then I had to see Bryce Harper get into the game." - "Fixing the All-Star Game" - Nat Anacostia, Nats Noodles

• NL EAST:

Mets: "This week has been one of the biggest of Dickey’s career, with his Letterman appearance coming one day after he pitched a scoreless inning in the All Star Game." - "WATCH: R.A. Dickey teaches Letterman how to throw a knuckleball" - Dan Good, NYPOST.com

Marlins: "When Emilio Bonifacio went down with a sprained thumb in May, the Marlins wasted no time adding outfield depth." - "Marlins mid-season report" - Juan C. Rodriguez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

Phillies: "At the All-Star Game, the focus was on Cole Hamels, subject of trade rumors and appeals from the game's stars as to why the lanky lefthander should join their teams." - "Phillies' outfield plight: Will they trade Pence or Victorino?" - Matt Gelb, Philly.com

Braves: "SLIDESHOW! Chipper's All-Star experience" - ajc.com

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