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Series Preview: Talking Washington Nationals vs Toronto Blue Jays with Bluebird Banter

As a preview for this week's three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays, we talked to the SB Nation's Blue Jays site, Bluebird Banter, about the Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, a couple former Jays and more...

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I've farmed out some of the Q&A requests we get every week to the other writers here at Federal Baseball this season to get some different points of view on all things Washington Nationals from the other writers we have on staff, but we got these questions from the SB Nation's Toronto Blue Jays site this afternoon and I had some free time so I answered these myself. Two of the questions and answers are below and there's a link to the entire exchange over at at the bottom of the page.

Check out the Q&A while we wait to see if they're going to play the series opener tonight or if rain is going to wash it out...

Bluebird Banter (BB): What is going on with Stephen Strasburg?

Federal Baseball (FBB): Hopefully the Nationals and Strasburg get a better idea of what's going on today when he's scheduled to see the team doctor. No word yet from the Nats, but the Strasburg we've seen so far this year is not the pitcher anyone expects him to be.'s Jeff Sullivan had a great article looking into what's gone wrong this season that focused in on his numbers out of the stretch. Strasburg's talked about an ankle injury this Spring leading to him altering his mechanics to some degree and he's been working on straightening them out, but there's clearly something going on when runners reach base again him.

He goes from a .259/.314/.455 line with the bases empty to .398/.457/.553 with runners on and .387/.419/.593 with runners in scoring position. How to explain this? I'm sure (and GM Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams have said) that the Nationals have been watching film and working things out, but so far they haven't figured out what's wrong.

Until another back-related issue (left trap tightness) forced him to the DL this weekend, I was convinced it was just something mechanical with his delivery out of the stretch, but we'll see soon what the doctors find and if it is actually something physical that's causing all the issues, but he's had no elbow or shoulder issues, the velocity is still there, it's just command seemingly, an inability to keep the ball down and hit his spots thus far.


BB: How are our old friends Yunel Escobar and Casey Janssen doing?

FBB: Casey Janssen just came back so I haven't really gotten a good feel for what he's got left, though I'm hoping for the pre-sickness Janssen from the beginning of last season when he put up pretty good numbers. The Nationals will have gotten a good deal on him if he's anything like that pitcher this season.

Yunel Escobar has been a shocking revelation for me so far this season. My brother is a Braves fan so I watched him come up with Atlanta and kind of lost track of him over the years until the Nationals acquired him this winter, so I was not sure what to expect, but a .313/.371/.391 line going into this series is more than I was hoping for from him.

Mike Rizzo talked after the deal about writing his defensive issues from last season off to injury, and he's been solid at third base so far this year, filling in for Anthony Rendon when he was supposed to play second according to what they said when he was acquired.

I love the fact that he doesn't strike out much and though he's been a little hotheaded recently, getting tossed from a game this weekend for arguing balls and strikes when the Nationals were already a man down with Harper unavailable, he's been much better than I expected so far and has moved wherever the Nationals have asked him so far, which they've spoken openly about appreciating. All good from him thus far.

• Check out the rest of the Q&A through the link below, and as always, represent us well if you do decide to comment over there, please!: