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Wire Taps: Nationals, Cubs’ rubber match on ESPN; Ryan Zimmerman has big day; Stephen Strasburg update

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals before the start of tonight’s series finale with the Cubs in Wrigley Field...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Strasburg took another step towards returning from the latest DL stint, for a cervical nerve impingement in his neck, throwing a 64-pitch bullpen session he told Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez ended up going well.

“Apparently he felt really good,” Martinez told reporters before Saturday’s game.

“He walked off and said, ‘I feel good. Real good.’ So we’ll go with that.”

Washington’s received solid outings from their starters in recent weeks, but a healthy and rested Strasburg back in the Nats’ rotation down the stretch could be a significant boost.

“We’re at a critical moment right now,” Martinez acknowledged, “...so when we get him back we need him back. We can’t have any setbacks. So we want to make sure that when he does get back he’s going to pitch every five days.”

NATS BEAT:

Stephen Strasburg throws bullpen session - (MLB.com)
"The next step for Strasburg is a simulated game on Wednesday and then perhaps a Minor League rehab assignment before he rejoins Washington's rotation."

Ryan Zimmerman hits 2 homers vs. Cubs - (MLB.com)
"When Dave Martinez took the Nats' manager job this offseason, one of the things he was most excited about was the prospects of his lineup, which on paper was set to be one of the deepest in the National League."

Ryan Zimmerman drives in six runs in Nationals’ 9-4 rout of Cubs - (WaPost)
"When he gets hot, he changes games. When he is playing, he provides a steadying hand. The Nationals are waiting for Zimmerman no more."

Zimmerman vanquishes Wrigley demons in Nats' 9-4 win - (MASN)
"Ever since he became manager of the Cubs in 2015, there is no member of the Nationals lineup Joe Maddon has been more willing to pitch to than Zimmerman."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

Cubs-Nationals rivalry has become theater of the absurd - (Chicago Tribune)
"Something odd usually happens when the Cubs and Nationals get together, making for some of the more fascinating games of the season."

Giants’ Dereck Rodriguez chasing Nats’ Juan Soto for NL rookie award - (SFChronicle.com)
"Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez is in the conversation because of his fabulous and unexpected first season. His 2.34 ERA is third lowest in the league among pitchers with at least 70 innings..."

Dave Martinez feeling pressure as Nationals scramble to stay in postseason hunt - (ESPN)
"Time is running out for the Washington Nationals to deliver on the mission Dave Martinez was hired to achieve."

Pending FA Hitters Who Have Helped Themselves In 2018 - (MLB Trade Rumors)
"Admittedly, whether Harper has upped his stock this year to a noticeable degree is debatable."

NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets' David Wright to start rehab assignment Sunday - (Newsday)
"Almost a year after last getting into a game — and about 2 1⁄2 seasons since his most recent major-league appearance — David Wright is going to play baseball again."

Bullpen gives up lead in late Braves loss - (MLB.com)
"Other than the fact the offense created no room for error, the Braves seemingly had the Brewers where they wanted them when Atlanta handed a one-run lead to their much-improved and recently revitalized bullpen."

Marlins open to more trades to add depth - (MLB.com)
"By trading Justin Bour to the Phillies on Friday for prospect McKenzie Mills, the Marlins added more depth to their system."

Phillies get creative, temporarily send Zach Eflin down to open roster spot for Justin Bour - (Philly.com)
"The way the Phillies’ top decision-makers see it, making the playoffs for the first time since 2011 would be priceless, even if it costs pitcher Zach Eflin almost $30,000."