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Wire Taps: Mike Rizzo defends Davey Martinez; Bryce Harper has breakout half; Stephen Strasburg struggles with endurance

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the finale with the Phillies this afternoon...

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Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Hey, the Nats finally got to use their planned walk-off celebrations!

Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:

Nats GM Mike Rizzo defends Dave Martinez as disappointing season winds down (WaPo)
"This ranks up there with some of the most disappointing teams that we’ve had. But this is my 37th year in professional baseball, so I’ve seen it all," Rizzo said. "We get it. We know what the standings say, but... we’re going to play hard baseball until the end.”

Mr. Harper Stays in Washington (Fangraphs)
Had Bryce Harper been more productive during the beginning of the year, maybe the Nationals have a few more wins on their record, and the Nats could have added more aggressively. But Harper, who has been one of baseball's better hitters since the break, will stay in Washington and try to do something with his improved contact, ability to beat the shift, and impeccable hair.

Nine takeaways from the Daniel Murphy trade and the Yu Darvish shutdown (The Athletic)
"The Cubs now have the 2008 NLCS/World Series MVP (Cole Hamels), the 2015 NLCS MVP (Murphy), the 2016 NL MVP (Kris Bryant), the 2016 NLCS co-MVPs (Javier Báez and Jon Lester) and the 2016 World Series MVP (Ben Zobrist)."

It’s Not Entirely Clear What the Rockies Are Doing (Fangraphs)
"The moves the Nationals made on Tuesday mean hardly anything for their future. It was more about just giving up on the present... And yet it was far easier to see how Daniel Murphy could’ve had a role on the Rockies."

Stephen Strasburg says return is "work in progress," cites endurance as a factor (MASN)
Strasburg didn't pitch as well as he hoped he would against the Phillies, but he thinks his endurance will rebuild as he returns.

Martinez on calling plays for Wilmer Difo and his choice for a backup at second base (MASN)
"Martinez said before yesterday's game that in an emergency situation, Mark Reynolds would play second base."

Stephen Strasburg pitched for the Nationals. If only that happened more often. (WaPo)
It's difficult to debate: If the Nationals had a healthy Strasburg all summer, they would probably be closer to Atlanta. Like, six or seven wins closer.

Katie Ledecky visits Nationals Park during rare break from pool (WaPo)
As it turns out, she can breathe out of water too.

Stephen Strasburg has mixed outing in return (
"They asked me if I wanted a rehab assignment. I said, 'We're kind of at the point of no return,'" Strasburg said. "So just got to go out there when you feel good enough to go, you go. And you give everything you have."

Wilmer Difo getting chance to play full time (
Wilmer Difo will get everyday at-bats once again, and another chance to prove himself after two on-and-off seasons. How he does these six weeks could determine if the Nationals go out and get a new second baseman this winter.