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Wire Taps: Tanner Roark in the Nationals' bullpen + Bryce Harper's HRs and more

The Washington Nationals got a much-needed day off on Thursday. If you took the day off from baseball too, take some time to catch up on the last 24 hours in Nats news. More Bryce Harper stories. Tanner Roark's role and more. Links and links...

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Williams talked to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, after Washington's 7-5 win, about the state of the Nationals' bullpen after the ten-game road trip to Miami, Atlanta and New York and the end of the three-game set with the Marlins in D.C., managing his relievers through that kind of stretch and Tanner Roark's emergence as an important back end arm.

"We've gotten Tanner [Roark] in some spots, some different spots where he can work. So, those leverage, tough seventh, eighth innings, he can pitch..." -Matt Williams on Tanner Roark's role

"It's difficult, depending on what your starting pitching is doing, but we had great starting pitching in New York, we had close games as well and we have to match up sometimes. Sometimes those matchups happen, which extends your bullpen, which puts added pressure out there. The good thing about the last roadtrip and this homestand so far: We've gotten Tanner [Roark] in some spots, some different spots where he can work. So, those leverage, tough seventh, eighth innings, he can pitch, and that helps, because you don't have to go to the same guys every day, depending on how much they've been used. It's good, guys are stepping into different roles and accomplishing different things."

Roark filled in in long relief in Atlanta, then worked the seventh of a one-run win in New York, earned the first save of his career in Monday's win over the Marlins and got the Nats out of the eighth in Wednesday's win over Miami. The versatile right-hander has found a way to excel in yet another role.

The Nationals got the day off yesterday, but they're right back at it with the Braves tonight. Gio Gonzalez gets the start in the series opener in D.C. followed by Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann.

After your day off on Thursday, take some time to catch up on the last 24 hours of Nationals news... starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

NATS BEAT: Strasburg updates; Scherzer stories; Roark tales

• "According to two people familiar with the situation, the issue is concentrated in Strasburg’s back and shoulder-blade area, and is not considered concerning." - "Stephen Strasburg played catch Wednesday but Nationals still assessing injury (UPDATED)"- James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Indeed, that’s only the 14th time in Nationals history a pitcher has struck out 10 or more batters without a walk. And it’s only the third time any MLB pitcher has done that this season." - "One bad pitch doesn’t spoil Scherzer’s brilliant start" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "The Nationals have committed a league-leading 26 errors and have the second worst defense rating..." - "With offense and pitching improving, Nats now need to focus on defensive improvement" - Neil Greenberg, The Washington Post

• "Storen knew his gameplan entering the encounter. Stanton is most vulnerable to breaking balls down and away. But that doesn’t mean you can abandon the other side of the plate altogether." - "Storen’s big strikeout of Stanton saves Wednesday’s win" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Though he accumulated more strikeouts than anybody over the past three seasons, he walked somewhere between two and three men per nine innings in that span..." - "Max Scherzer is striking out as many batters as ever, and walking fewer" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post

Roark Stories:

• "On Wednesday, Roark came in against the Marlins in the eighth inning right after Giancarlo Stanto had crushed a momentum-swinging three-run shot to close the Nationals' lead to 7-5." - "Roark's versatility paying big dividends for on-call bullpen" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "By February, he was a long reliever. By mid-April, he was pitching in one-inning situations, and fared so well that he quickly became a reliable and relied upon late-inning option." - "Tanner Roark, set-up man?" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post

• "As teammate Drew Storen pointed out, Roark sees the bigger picture. He has the right mind-set and is happy to be in the big leagues." - "New perspective has Roark pleased with role" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

Harper's Homers:

• "I mean, I just feel like the older I get the more I need to be patient. You’re gonna get one pitch an at-bat, half a pitch an at bat." - "Harper on what he’s done and what he wants to become" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "What we’re seeing in Harper is a remarkable maturation at a time when he’s still just 22, still never to face a pitcher younger than him." - "Even before three home run day, Bryce Harper was a better hitter' - Barry Svrluga, The Washington Post

• "Maybe it’s the fresh start with a new team, maybe it’s the added protection in the lineup, but Escobar seems to be feeling right at home with the Nats thus far." - "Stock Watch: Harper’s power display caps bounce-back week" - Daniel Shiferaw, Nats Insider

• "During a week filled with major sporting events in the nation's capital, Bryce Harper did his best to steal the show." - "Nationals Pastime: Record day from Bryce Harper emphasizes big year" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com

Yunel Escobar's story:

• "Many scouts and agents hadn’t heard of Escobar because he had played in only a few international tournaments and wasn’t a big name in Cuba." - "Yunel Escobar’s long and winding road to the big leagues" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

NATIONAL(S) BEAT: More Harper; Souza's start

• "Bryce Harper went and had himself a game Wednesday afternoon, and now, we can say these things, and not be lying: Harper is sitting on a career-high wRC+." - "The Latest Stage of Bryce Harper’s Development" - Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs Baseball

• "Twins management wasn't shy in expressing what it thought Meyer needed to work on when he was sent back to Rochester." - "Greensburg's Alex Meyer battles mechanics, mental side to reach majors" - Michael Pointer, Indystar.com

• "While in 2015 pitchers are throwing Souza a lot of breaking pitches (25% of all pitches on the season) and his whiff (swing and miss) rate is an extremely high 32%..." - "Souza vs. Myers: Who's Been Better?" - Andrew Felper, DRaysBay

NATS MINORS: Valverde, Lopez and more

• "After a marathon meeting Tuesday night and into early Wednesday, Spotsylvania County officials in Virginia voted to delay a potential decision on whether or not to build a new multiuse stadium that would serve as the new home of the Hagerstown Suns." - "Va. officials delay decision on stadium project" - CJ Lovelace, Herald Mail Media

• Hagerstown 7, Rome 6 - Jose Marmolejos-Diaz - 3 for 5, 2B, 3B, HR - Hagerstown Suns Box

• "'He didn't walk anybody, pitched to both sides, very efficient with his work.'" - Tripp Keister - "Lopez fires 5 scoreless in season debut for Potomac" - Alex M. Smith, nationals.com

• "For the third time in the first 25 games of the season, the Harrisburg Senators fell in walk-off fashion..." - "Harrisburg Senators fall via walk-off again" - Mick Reinhard, PennLive.com

• "Whenever he retires the final out of a Syracuse Chiefs win, Valverde promises to raise the curtain on his fist-pumping, torso-convulsing celebratory twist." - "There's still life left in Jose Valverde's act; Syracuse Chiefs will test how much is left in his arm" - Lindsay Kramer, syracuse.com

NL EAST UPDATES: Phillies' All-Star?; Harvey in Philly; Dee's start; Peraza's time?

Phillies: "[L]et us examine the Phillies roster and see who deserves the incalculable honor of traveling to Ohio for a few nights." - "Who will be the Phillies' All-Star?" - Justin Klugh, The Good Phight

Mets: "Matt Harvey bids to improve to 6-0 when the Dark Knight faces the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park." - "Morning Briefing: Matt Harvey Day in Philadelphia" - Adam Rubin, Mets Blog - ESPN

Marlins: "Dee Gordon doesn't know too much about Rod Carew, but the Marlins second baseman on Thursday found his name linked with the Hall of Famer." - "Gordon keeps up hot hitting with Marlins" - Joe Frisaro, marlins.com

Braves: "The Braves may transition Peterson to third base to make room at second base for Peraza, who's ranked by MLB.com as Atlanta's No. 1 prospect and the No. 38 prospect in baseball." - "Inbox: What's timetable for Peraza's callup?" - Mark Bowman, braves.com