Yesterday had the Mueller report — but it also had something bearing far more historical importance and cultural relevance. Yep, Wilmer Difo homered!
Here’s the news from Nationals Park:
A tale of two Nats signings: Patrick Corbin (good), Trevor Rosenthal (not so much) (WaPo)
Patrick Corbin has gotten out to an impressive start, with a 2.36 ERA and a 33-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio (though he's using his slider less, which isn't great). Imagine how good the team would be if their bullpen was even remotely functional, or if Trevor Rosenthal suddenly found what he’s lost. But for him to find it, the Nats are going to have to hand him the ball more often.
Nationals notes, opinion and analysis: On Sean Doolittle’s usage, Juan Soto’s sliders, Anthony Rendon’s future, etc. (The Athletic)
Sean Doolittle leads the Nats' bullpen in relief innings. He's averaged 18 pitches per outing, and is on track to throw way more than he ever has. It's mainly a function of the Trevor Rosenthal ripple effect — nobody in the bullpen but Doolittle seems qualified to pitch past the sixth. (Also, nobody wants to throw Juan Soto fastballs, and the Nats are now in a 25 games in 26 days stretch, while Carter Kieboom is tearing it up in Triple-A and the rotation is pitching super well.)
Corbin hits his spots, finally rewarded with first Nats win (MASN)
Though it looked like things would unravel towards the end, the story was ultimately Patrick Corbin's stellar location and rhythm all game long on Thursday.
Eaton gets first day off, Robles gets first chance to bat first (MASN)
“[Robles is] right now what Adam Eaton was when he was a lot younger,” Martinez said. “He’s moving really well. He’s doing the things he’s capable of doing for us. He’s getting on base for us, getting hits for us, he’s playing good defense. I know he’s feeling good when he’s trying to steal bases. We want to keep Eaton that way.”
Patrick Corbin beats Giants for 1st win as a National (MLB.com)
“He really wasn’t giving them any chance to get into any kind of rhythm,” Nationals catcher Yan Gomes said. “He was taking apart the corners. We were getting calls. I know their guys were kind of getting mad about it, but he was hitting that spot consistently. At some point, those calls are going to be made. And he just kept going right after it.”
Why Mike Rizzo is optimistic he'll get a deal done with Anthony Rendon | NBC Sports Washington
Though Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the two sides have a decent-sized gap to surmount, Mike Rizzo said the Nats fully intend to try to lock him up. "We recognize what we have in Anthony, he recognizes what we've meant to him," he said. "Hopefully we can come to some sort of agreement."
Patrick Corbin gives Nationals head start, Sean Doolittle hangs on to top Giants, 4-2 (WaPo)
Corbin finally got his win, and although Sean Doolittle allowed a run, the Nats are over .500 and have a good taste in their mouth as they head out on the road.
Rookie Victor Robles to lead off in Nationals’ second straight lineup shakeup (WaPo)
Adam Eaton got his first day off, but instead of holding Robles in the nine-hole, Davey Martinez gave that slot to Michael A. Taylor and kept Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto in the two-and-three positions.
Thursday’s News & Notes (Nationals Prospects)
Fresno got 18 hits and 17 runs, Jacob Condra-Bogan is looking better and better, and the P-Nats' bullpen decided to emulate their counterparts in Washington.
Rendon extends hit streak to 16 games (MASN)
Rendon has 15 extra-base hits through sixteen games. What a time to have a contract year.
Here's each team's closer of the future (MLB.com)
Apparently it's James Borque, somehow.
Each NL East team's secret weapon is ... (MLB.com)
Howie Kendrick. It's Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick's hot start creates conundrum at 2B (MLB.com)
On the one hand, Howie is hitting far better than Brian Dozier, who's currently sidelined with a toe injury anyway. On the other hand, Howie is simply older and less durable, and Davey Martinez has to be cognizant of that, in addition to the fact that Dozier rather consistently gets off to slow starts.
Juan Soto learning to adjust to offspeed pitches (MLB.com)
Soto has seen 43% fastballs at the plate. Only Eloy Jimenez has seen a lower percentage. His sophomore season hasn't been a slump, but it hasn't lived up to the astronomical expectations he set for himself — but nobody in the clubhouse, Kevin Long included, is worried. In fact, most are happy that he's getting this sort of slump out of the way early, especially given his short path through the minors.
Who killed the Nationals? New murder mystery reveals the origin of the team’s curse. (WaPo)
There is a murder-mystery coming out about how the Nationals are cursed, except it's not a murder and instead just treats the team's abysmal luck throughout the years as a criminal act that one would investigate as they would say, a homicide. The author went as far as Montreal to figure it out, apparently.
Anthony Rendon Exploding into $200 Million Superstar with Bryce Harper Gone (B/R)
A deep-dive into Rendon's stats and path to this point, including some cool data on how Rendon is able to zero in on strikes down the middle. "If he doesn't get a $200 million deal from the Nationals sometime this summer, he'll almost certainly get one on the open market should he keep doing what he's been doing."