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Wire Taps: Nationals' NLDS opponent determined tonight - Pirates vs Giants

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The Washington Nationals learn which team they will face in the NLDS later tonight when the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants meet in the NL Wild Card Game. While they're waiting, there are decisions to make, like what to do with Ryan Zimmerman?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Last time around, a then-27-year-old Ryan Zimmerman went 8 for 21 in the five-game NLDS with St. Louis with a double and a home run in Game 5 against the Cardinals, which the Washington Nationals, of course, lost, 9-7.

This time around, the speculation, on the internets at least, is that Zimmerman will most likely start the postseason in a bench role, having not returned from the DL and the hamstring injury which sidelined him for 55 games in time to get significant at bats and defensive reps before the regular season ended.

"I guess the good thing is he can play all three and if somebody needs a day then we can certainly put him in any of those. But I want to give him some at bats, it's important." -Williams upon Zimmerman's return on using him at 1B/3B/LF

Zimmerman went 5 for 19 in eight games, starting four games in left down the stretch, but he never played third, saw limited time at first, and was in-and-out of the lineup as he tested his right hamstring and tried to get going.

Ryan Zimmerman, bench bat? Pinch hitter, Ryan Zimmerman? It doesn't seem right for anyone who has followed the so-called "Face of the Franchise" over the years since he was drafted and debuted in 2005 and grew as a player as the franchise slowly improved. Can he make a significant contribution off the bench?

In 24 plate appearances as a pinch hitter in his 10 major league seasons, Zimmerman's 7 for 22 (.318/.333/.545) with two doubles, a home run, a walk and four Ks.

In 30 PAs when he's entered a game as a sub, Zimmerman's 10 for 28, (.357/.367/.571) with three doubles, a home run, a walk and four Ks.

What role will Zimmerman end up playing? Will Rafael Soriano be on the postseason roster? Tanner Roark is definitely going to the pen, right?

Those decisions should come soon once the Nats know who they will meet in the NLDS.

Check out what The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore had to say about Zimmerman in today's BIG STORY and check out the rest of the links and lots of them below.

Starting... RIGHT NOW!!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

"Zimmerman deserves, after years of toil for terrible teams, to contribute as much as possible to a potentially great team as it tries to win the World Series." - "What to do with Ryan Zimmerman in the NLDS" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "A week ago, Nats minor league director Bob Boone ruminated on what teams the Nats least wanted to face in the postseason." - "A Washington-Baltimore World Series? For Nationals and Orioles fans, time to dream" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "'I just want to make sure that I do a good job over at third base to give our boys the best chance to win,' Henley said. 'It’s not about me. It’s really not.'" - "Washington Nationals' Bobby Henley finally gets chance to bring passion to MLB playoffs" - Tom Schad, Washington Times

• "'Our lineup is so deep this year that it’s kind of scary.'" - "Bryce Harper: ‘Our Lineup is So Deep This Year that it’s Kind of Scary’" - Chris Lingebach, CBS DC

• "The last time it happened -- a mere 90 years ago -- it gave that team from D.C. (Walter Johnson's proud Washington Senators) as many World Series championships in franchise history as the Yankees had won, at the time (one). No kidding." - "Baseball insiders predicting Nats-O's Series, but say Nats will win it" - Tim Brant, WJLA.com

• "From that point to the end of the season, Storen saved 10 games without allowing a run in 10 1/3 innings, with 10 strikeouts." - "Storen expects success in second postseason go-round" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "Manager Matt Williams has a nickname for nearly every player, and uses them often, with his players in conversation, when referring to them with reporters or talking about them to coaches." - "A guide to Matt Williams’s nicknames for Nationals players, coaches" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Mark Zuckerman and Tim Murray of ESPN 980 AM previewed everything you need to know about the Washington Nationals entering the postseason." - "Podcast: Nationals postseason preview show" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "After they won the National League East title on Sept. 16, the Nationals didn't let up, going 9-3 until the regular season came to an end." - "Nationals bring pride, confidence into NLDS" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "Roark, it seems, will be the odd man out come the National League Division Series, when the Nats only need four starting pitchers in their rotation." - "Nationals Pastime: Rotation riding high" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "The Nationals are as deep a team as you will find in MLB and are clicking on all cylinders headed into the postseason." - "The Nationals are peaking too soon. Here’s why" - Neil Greenberg, The Washington Post

• "Harper will join MLB players Jose Altuve and Justin Morneau on a roster that already includes Yasiel Puig, Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols and Adam Jones." - "Harper to play showcase in Japan with fellow MLB stars" Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "After 11 years of professional baseball, Nationals utilityman Kevin Frandsen will be in the postseason for the first time." - "Frandsen thrilled, not satisfied, with first postseason" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "Manager Matt Williams was asked this week if there is such a thing as ‘peaking too early.’ He doesn’t believe in that." - "‘Now the fun begins’ – Nats enter postseason on a roll" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "On Wednesday, the Nationals will play an intra-squad scrimmage at Nationals Park to mimic a real game." - "The Nationals get back to work" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "On July 1 against the Rockies, Barrett's unique motion was magnified when he was called for a balk while facing Justin Morneau." - "Change for the better: Barrett ready for playoffs" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "Bryce Harper was added to an MLB all-star team that will tour and play in Japan in mid-November, the league announced Tuesday afternoon." - "Bryce Harper to play for MLB all-star team in Japan in November" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Red Sox manager John Farrell will manage the club, which will play a five-game series against 'Samurai Japan,' Japan's national tea." - "Altuve, Morneau, Harper to play in Japan series" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com

• Your Daily Message from the Dalai Lama on Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "Why Washington is the favorite and best positioned team to win the World Series." - "AA Podcast #98 - John Smoltz" - Matt Yoder, Awful Announcing

• "Watching the Nats this month, they seem focused, hungry, confident, deep, and ready for an extended charge through the postseason. Problem is, they’re also less interesting than two years ago, especially when compared to the Dodgers." - "MLB playoff preview: The player who drives people crazy, but we want to see; people who could blossom, and teams that are boring. And please no Detroit" - Andy Martino, NY Daily News

• "Four former Stanford baseball players -- Jeremy Guthrie, Sam Fuld, Jed Lowrie and Drew Storen -- could see action in the 2014 MLB Postseason..." - "Stanford baseball will be represented in MLB playoffs" - Stanford Athletics, Palo Alto Online |

• "First of all, it might be spelled 'Washington Nationals,' but it's pronounced 'Montreal Expos.' Do you really want to see a city rewarded for stealing another city's team?" - "Why Not To Cheer For Every Team In The Postseason" - Josh Timmers, Bleed Cubbie Blue

• "'First in war, first in peace and last in the American League,' once ran the joke about the seat of a superpower and baseball team." - "Can Washington Nationals put an end to 90 years of misery?" - Rupert Cornwell, The Independent

• "The Nats averaged 31,844 over 81 home games, or 76.7 percent of capacity, good for ​11th place among the 30 Major League Baseball teams." - "Washington Nationals top 2.5 million in attendance for second year, down 2.75 percent" - Mark Holan, Washington Business Journal

• "So your baseball team didn’t make the playoffs. Bummer! Neither did mine. Of you, I ask a simple question: who’s going to be your playoff bandwagon?" - "A Playoff Poll for the Uninvested" - Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs Baseball

• NL WILD CARD GAME:

• "On Wednesday night at PNC Park, the Giants will play their first one-and-out game since that nerve-rattling night at Wrigley Field 16 years ago, which ended in a 5-3 Cubs victory." - "Past Giants recall nerve-wracking 1-game playoff in Chicago" - Henry Schulman, SFGate

• "A year after the club brought postseason baseball back to Pittsburgh after a 21-year drought, the Pirates have returned and will face the San Francisco Giants at 8:07 p.m." - "Pirates pitcher Volquez 'excited' about starting wild-card game" - Jenn Menendez,Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

• "Mike Trout, Stephen Strasburg and Adam Dunn all get their first playoff chance." - "Trout, Strasburg giving MLB playoffs a fresh look" - Ben Walker, The Daily Journal

• "Much as he followed his friend Francisco Liriano to the Pirates, Volquez will follow Liriano as the starter in the Pirates' second consecutive winner-take-all contest at PNC Park." - "Edinson Volquez's improbable journey to lead Pirates into postseason" - Bill Brink, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

• NATSTOWN:

• "Wood said she spoke to a representative for the owners of the Hagerstown Suns and Diamond Nation on Tuesday and an agreement is expected to be finalized within days that puts the tax sale on hold." - "Baseball partners still seek city site" - Pamela Gould, The News Desk

• "This season, Washington pitchers struck out 1,288 opposing batters and walked 352. That’s a ratio of 3.66-to-1, a better rate than any of the other 2,391 teams to play a full season of baseball since 1901." - "Inside the Numbers: Starting Rotation" - Mike Feigen, Curly W Live

• "If you are thinking about buying tickets to Nationals playoff games do not hesitate, DO IT! You will never regret it." - "Nats Fever: It’s Time to Chase a Pennan" - Patrick Cannon, CBS DC

• "The Woeful #Nats and Runners in Scoring Position (And Why It Doesn’t Matter The Way You Think it Does)" - Nationals 101

• "Nats’ September in review: We have promises to keep" - Nat Anacostia, Nats Noodles

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "In a telephone interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, general manager Sandy Alderson described run differential as 'another measurement' to consider." - "Did the Mets Underperform This Season?" - Jared Diamond, WSJ

Braves: "But after enduring one of the most frustrating seasons of his career, [Greg] Walker has opted to resign from his role as the Braves hitting coach." - "Walker resigns as Braves' hitting coach" - Mark Bowman, Braves.com

Marlins: "The Marlins made a 15-win jump in 2014, and after finishing 77-85, they are trending in the right direction." - "Continuity key as Marlins continue to rebuild" - Joe Frisaro, marlins.com

Phillies: "The club announced Tuesday afternoon that every big league coach has been asked to return for the 2015 season. It remains to be seen if everyone accepts." - "Phillies seeking to retain coaching staff" - Todd Zolecki, phillies.com