Wire Taps: Nationals Welcome LA Dodgers To D.C. Tonight

Patrick McDermott

The "second-half" gets underway tonight in the nation's capital with Stephen Strasburg on the mound for the Washington Nationals against an old foe in a new uniform. Ricky Nolasco starts for the LA Dodgers tonight in Nationals Park. 7:05 pm EDT.

While some were taking a few days away from the game to rest up for the "second half" of the 2013 campaign, we were reading prospect updates and updated prospect rankings and wondering what Stephen Strasburg will do in the second half and writing up what we think will be the Top 5 stories of the last 67 games on the schedule. It's been a busy few days after the All-Star Game. Now it's back to business. Strasburg will be back on the mound in the nation's capital tonight to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, looking to bounce back from a rough start in Miami as he faces former Marlins' starter Ricky Nolasco, who was traded to LA on July 6th. Nolasco's (11-7) with a 3.66 ERA in 20 starts against the Nationals in his career, but he's (0-2) with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against the Nats this season. Nolasco tonight. Zack Greinke tomorrow. Clayton Kershaw on Sunday. No one said it was going to be easy.

Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann for the Nationals this weekend. It's on. Is it 7:05 pm EDT yet? Until then, links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!:

• "[Jordan] Zimmermann has done it. He is not only a major leaguer. He is an all-star, validated Tuesday night when he stood on the first base line, listened to his name bellow through Citi Field in New York and tipped his cap..." - "Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann is same as he ever was; just ask those in his home town" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "The season passed its halfway point three weeks ago. There are fewer than 70 games remaining on the 2013 schedule." - "Washington Nationals storylines to watch in second half" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The Nats have already used up all their mulligans for 2013, slogging their way into the All-Star break with a 48-47 record that falls well below Opening Day expectations..." - "2nd half storylines" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "The second half of the Washington Nationals’ season begins Friday with a clear and simple mission: 'Just being more consistent,' as Manager Davey Johnson put it." - "Washington Nationals have their work cut out for them" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Of the Nats' 67 remaining contests, only 24 (36 percent) are against teams that currently have records over .500." - "Nationals Pastime: A look at what lies ahead" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "The Nationals begin the 67-game final leg of their marathon on Friday, hosting the surging Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a 11-game homestand." - "Story lines to watch in the Nationals’ second half" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "One reason for the disappointing first half was the offense, which ranked near the bottom of almost every category, including on-base percentage and runs scored." - "Nationals remain confident entering pivotal second half" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "Already this season Harper stubbornly kept playing when he should have rested following a collision with the Dodger Stadium wall, landing him on the disabled list longer than need be." - "Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals Aim To Be Less ‘Terrible’ In 2nd Half" - Chuck Carroll, CBS DC

• "In the above clip, we look at what it would take for the Nationals to make a playoff run over the season's final 2 1/2 months." - "VIDEO: Possible playoff run, Harper in Derby" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Finally, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is off the hook. After being picked apart for having the gall to play the game his way, Harper has lost the title of Major League Baseball’s Most Disrespectful Young Star." - "Yasiel Puig gives Bryce Harper a run for his money in terms of talent and attitude" - Jason Reid, The Washington Post

• "No. 2: July 29, 2010: The Twins traded catcher Wilson Ramos and pitcher Joe Testa to the Nationals for reliever Matt Capps. Capps is now out of the league, while Ramos is the starting catcher for the Nationals." - "Nationals' all-time Top 5 in-season trades" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "Most players - those not involved in the All-Star events Monday and Tuesday - have gotten four days off, a chance to recharge their batteries, spend some time with family and friends, and let their bumps and bruises heal." - "Nationals Pastime: Pitching match-ups and a pitcher that could be relocating" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Already this season Harper stubbornly kept playing when he should have rested following a collision with the Dodger Stadium wall, landing him on the disabled list longer than need be." - "Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals Aim To Be Less ‘Terrible’ In 2nd Half" - Chuck Carroll, CBS DC

• "According to Pitch FX, [Jordan] Zimmermann has thrown a two-seam fastball on 1.5 percent of his pitches this season. Back in late May, Zimmermann explained the pitch tracking system had erred." - "Jordan Zimmermann’s non-existent two-seam fastball" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "'The way I grew up -- I wouldn't trade it for anything,' said [Craig] Stammen, who played against [Cory] Luebke from Little League through high school." - "Padres' Cory Luebke, Nationals' Craig Stammen hail from small towns" - Zack Meisel, nationals.com: News

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "The Dodgers (47-47) failed to meet expectations for much of the season before going a major league best-tying 17-5 since June 22 to climb within 2 1/2 games of NL West-leading Arizona." - "Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals - Preview - July 19, 2013" - ESPN Los Angeles

• "Judging by their ample farm system, the Washington Nationals are not a team to be written off in the National League East race." - "National League's top prospects to get major call" - Jeff Reynolds, Alamogordo Daily News

• "On the surface, this is the America of my imagination - loud, proud and in your face. But there is another, less obvious side to baseball that says perhaps even more about the country." - "BBC News - Why baseball is a metaphor for life in America" - BBC News

• "Harris Interactive’s annual report on the popularity of Major League Baseball teams is out, and the Nats ranked 26 on the list of 30." - "Nationals Among America’s Least Popular Baseball Teams" - CBS DC

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Auburn: "The Doubledays had 12 hits, but could only muster three runs in a 9-3 loss at Tri-City tonight." - "Doubledays Drop Game 2 of Tri-City Series 9-3" - Auburn Doubledays News

Class-A Hagerstown: Suns 15; Crawdads 2 - Wander Ramos - 4 for 5, 1 2B; 1 R, 2 RBIs - Hagerstown Suns Scoreboard

Class-A Hagerstown: "Hagerstown officials are trying to figure out how to keep the Hagerstown Suns in the city. Fredericksburg, Va., is "actively engaged" in attracting the Class A Washington Nationals affiliate..." - "Hagerstown faces tough competition to keep Washington Nationals affiliate" - Baltimore Business Journal

High-A Potomac: "The Nationals unleashed a barrage of four runs on four hits in the home half of the 6th bringing eight men to the plate." - "Late Rally Carries Nationals Over Hillcats 5-3" - Potomac Nationals News

High-A Potomac: "[Michael] Taylor went 4-for-4 Wednesday night in Potomac's 2-1 win over Lynchburg in the series opener at Woodbridge, Va. Taylor drove in the go-ahead run." - "Potomac's Michael Taylor makes adjustment, on best hitting surge of season" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

Double-A Harrisburg: "Justin Bloxom homered and drove in five runs, and Nathan Karns tossed eight strong innings to lead the Harrisburg Senators to a 12-3 victory over the Akron Aeros in the series opener at Metro Bank Park." - "Bloxom, Karns Spark 12-3 Blowout of Akron" - Marshall Kelner, Harrisburg Senators News

Double-A Harrisburg: "Steven Souza Jr. finished a single shy of the cycle, Justin Bloxom drove in five runs, and Nathan Karns tossed eight strong innings as the Harrisburg Senators smashed the Akron Aeros 12-3 Thursday night..." - "Steven Souza, Nathan Karns, Justin Bloxom among the numerous stars in Harrisburg Senators' blowout victory" - Geoff Morrow, PennLive.com

Triple-A Syracuse: "The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, scored 10 runs between the second and third innings en route to a 11-4 win at the Rochester Red Wings on Thursday evening." - "Chiefs blast four homers, rout Red Wings" - Syracuse Chiefs News

Triple-A Syracuse: "The Auburn Doubledays went down early and couldn't mount a comeback, as they fell to the Tri-City ValleyCats, 9-3, Thursday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy." - "Errors cost Auburn in 9-3 loss to Tri-City" - The Auburn Citizen

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

• "Last Night In Woodbridge" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "The Nationals’ talks with Osceola County over a planned new $98 million spring training facility hit a major hurdle this week..." - "Nationals’ talks with Osceola County hit a snag" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Gio Gonzalez Foundation Baseball Camp on August 8th in Bethesda" - Nats Enquirer

• "If you’ve ever wondered which uniform combination the Nats perform the best in, SportsLogos.net has you covered." - "Nats wins based on uniform combinations" - Sarah Kogod, Washington Post

• "Injury Daze and Rankings" - Nats vs Dodgers Lady and the Nats

• "The Nats haven’t met expectations. A lot of blame is going around." - "The Nats haven’t met expectations. Who’s at fault?" - Nats Anacostia, Nats Noodles

• "Remembering 1924 – Browns 10, Senators 9" - Mark Hornbaker, D.C. Baseball History

• "The Washington Nationals were on every prognosticator’s pre-season short list of World Series contenders." - "Washington Nationals have work to do in second half" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Don’t look now: Werth is the guy Rizzo signed 3 years ago" - Half Street Heart Attack

• "Keith Law Updates Top 50 Prospects" - The Nationals Review

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "They may not be in the mix, but the Mets have at least been interesting through the first half." - "Mets Midseason Report Card: Matt Harvey, David Wright make the grade; Ike Davis, Jordany Valdespin do not" - Kristie Ackert, NY Daily News

Phillies: "Seriously, it is in the DNA of this Phillies core group to treat April and May as the pregame stretch period before the season really begins." - "Slow starts have hamstrung Phils for years" - Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Inquirer

Braves: "Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was cleared to start taking some swings again after a visit to Braves hand specialist Dr. Gary Lourie on Thursday morning." - "Braves’ Freeman cleared to swing" - Carroll Rogers, www.ajc.com

Marlins: "Despite his success, Miami plans on shutting down its All-Star rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez once he pitches in 150 to 170 innings this season." - "Miami Marlins mindful of future with Jose Fernandez" - Manny Navarro, MiamiHerald.com

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