One day, there will be no more Bryce Harper articles to link. Today is not that day.
Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
Inside Bryce Harper's unforgettable return to Washington D.C. (SI)
Tom Verducci had the inside beat on the Phillies' clubhouse — Harper apparently got emotional, the $57 million dollars mattered, but most of all, this could spell the beginning of a new era for Harper — one in which he actually meets his expectations.
Rizzo looking for answers from "struggling" bullpen - Byron Kerr
Mike Rizzo thinks his guys will revert to the mean, and Davey Martinez (rightfully) knows that these guys are all he has for now, so he'll have to keep sending them out there. In the meantime, Trevor Rosenthal has to keep "knocking the rust off," which doesn't seem ideal.
Aníbal Sánchez leg injury against Phillies (MLB.com)
Sánchez has a nice bruise on his right hip, and after stiffening up, the Nats decided to value the long-term health of their rotation over the one game against the Phillies.
What, you thought this Nationals season was going to be fun? (WaPo)
The Nats had a big, splashy offseason. They claimed they would be fundamentally better in spring. Now it's the real deal, and it's not so pretty in many ways, though exciting in many others. The bullpen is crummy, the offense is faltering on one day and dominating the next — this is going to be a test for everyone.
For Phillies rematch, Nationals shuffle lineup in response to Trea Turner’s broken finger (WaPo)
Brian Dozier got shifted to second in the lineup, Wilmer Difo gets shortstop, and Adrian Sánchez gets a slot on the bench.
Nationals' walk-off walk hands Phillies first loss of season (WaPo)
Jake Noll, of all people, was the decisive factor yesterday. He won't be today, or likely for a while as he tunes back up in Fresno. Davey Martinez, in the meantime, was actually not all positive after the game!
Despite 9-8 win, Martinez "not thrilled" with Nats' play (MASN)
“The baserunning stuff has gotta go away. The defense, every day, we gotta be clean. We’re going to be good, but we can’t play like that every day and expect to come back and win games. We can’t. They know that. I’m proud of them for playing the way they played, but we gotta start playing baseball every day. Limit the mistakes and start playing baseball.”
Another bullpen meltdown, but another walk-off win (MASN)
For the third straight year, Mike Rizzo has something bad to say about the bullpen. And this year, it's only a week into the season!
Nationals beat Phillies on bases-loaded walk (MLB.com)
Also, Juan Soto finally hit (a three-day slump!).
The Nationals need Craig Kimbrel (NBCSports)
There's no team that can argue Craig Kimbrel wouldn't help them. But there are few that can argue that Kimbrel would make a greater impact on their bullpen than the Nationals, whose struggling arms are consistently blowing leads. And if the Nats signed Kimbrel to, say, a three-year, $60 million deal, the Nats would exceed the luxury tax by $11.3 million, which would lead to a $5.6 million penalty. It could very well be worth it.
Nationals, Phillies show NL East will be a wild ride (ESPN)
If neither side cleans up their bullpen, the NL East won't be baseball's most dominant division, but it'll be the most exciting — because at this point, it's pretty clear that every team has significant holes.
For 400 Phillies fans who traveled to Nationals Park, Bryce Harper’s return was a vision of the future (WaPo)
The Phillies fans were cocky, drunk, and had high expectations heading into Washington on Tuesday. A Harper homer, a fight, and a resounding win later, their expectations were met.
Hostile Homecoming: Bryce Harper’s Bizarre Return to Washington (The Ringer)
The Lerners are wealthy. They gave their face-saving offers. And then the Nats fans bit, apparently.
Curse of Bam Bam? Bryce Harper’s return warranted all of the boos. (WaPo)
Apparently, Nats fans are worried that Harper leaving will curse the team and prevent them from winning a World Series, in which case, let's just note that they weren't exactly steamrolling on that front while Harper was there. Anyhow, the boos were loud, if you didn't know.
Bowden: 10 rookies off to hot starts who will be worth watching all season (The Athletic)
"[Victor] Robles has shown off his speed, but also made a key baserunning mistake in the season opener. He’s a tremendous athlete and is my choice for NL Rookie of the Year."
Nationals Reliever Trevor Rosenthal Is Stuck On Infinity (Deadspin)
"This streak won’t last forever, as evidenced by the fact that it is a first in baseball’s long, long history. Rosenthal throws a blazing fastball, and very soon, whether he improves anything on his end or not, someone is going to pound one into the turf for a ground-ball out. In the meantime, Rosenthal chalked up his struggles to trying to be ‘too perfect.’ To which I say, buddy, perfection can take many forms, and is truly in the eye of the beholder."