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Wire Taps: What do high pitch counts for Nationals’ starters mean?; Where are Joe Blanton, Joe Nathan, etc.?; Joe Ross returns

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of tonight’s game against the Mariners.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The world can really be garbage sometimes. On the bright side, the Nats are playing today.

Here’s the latest from Nats Park.

What do the Nats' pitch counts mean?
Four out of five Nationals’ starters make up the top five in the NL in pitches per start. Some of these make sense (Gio Gonzalez is a guy that throws a lot of pitches, as is Max Scherzer--and both take great care of their arms), but others, such as Stephen Strasburg, are more worrisome.

If you're tired of the Nats' bad bullpen, imagine being a starting pitcher
It's exhausting for fans to watch the bullpen blow leads time and time again. It's probably more exhausting for the starting pitchers.

By overextending their starting pitchers, the Nats are playing with fire
The Nats have a seemingly insurmountable NL East lead. If their starters don't have any gas left in the tank come September 1st because they've been so overstretched in an effort to avoid going to the bullpen until it is absolutely, completely necessary, that lead may seem surmountable.

Mailbag: What's up with Turner, MASN, minor-league relief corps?
Trea Turner isn't swinging enough at fastballs in the zone and swinging too much at stuff not in the zone, while Joe Blanton and Sammy Solis are both still far from returning, and Joe Nathan is struggling in Triple-A. (Also, a MASN decision could be coming soon.)

Let's take a look at the Mariners
This iteration of the Mariners was supposed to be the one that finally made the playoffs. Instead, they have a losing record and more bullpen problems than the Nats.

Joe Ross will make start against Mariners tonight
Joe Ross will make his (GLORIOUS) return to the majors tonight.