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Wire Taps: Bet on the Nationals improving; Trevor Rosenthal nearing return; Victor Robles has HBP problem

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

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Nationals hit, and their bullpen held the deficit where it was. Their defense was slipshod, and their starting pitching was mediocre. One day, they’re going to have all four things come together at once, and it’ll be incredible.

Until then, here are some links to tide you over — the news from New York:

Bet on better: For the Nationals, things can’t get much worse and should soon tick up (WaPo)
Think about it this way: every member of the Nationals has stats on the back of their baseball cards that should eventually line up with their performance. That, or Mike Rizzo will obliterate this team at the deadline. So prepare for things to get better — but know that they could get worse quickly.

Martinez concerned about Robles getting hit by pitch (MASN)
Victor Robles has always—and seemingly always will—stand essentially on top of the plate. Davey Martinez is okay with that, but the way he dodges the pitches—jumping out of the way instead of turning to protect himself—is a problem.

Hellickson believes mechanics to blame for choppy loss (MASN)
Generally, walking the first three batters you face isn't a recipe for success, and Jeremy Hellickson blames it all on his fastball location.

Jeremy Hellickson digs Nationals into a hole they can’t overcome in close loss to Cubs (WaPo)
The Nats gave up too many runs early—when it seemed impossible to get back into it—on the backs of mistakes and walks. When they finally were in it, they couldn't find one more hit, and thus, they lost yet another series.

Trevor Rosenthal working to return to Nationals (MLB.com)
Trevor Rosenthal is still working on his mechanics, but will likely get another shot in the majors pretty soon — though Davey Martinez says he's still missing.

Nationals rally, but find themselves treading water again (NBCSW)
Anthony Rendon is back on fire. Howie Kendrick is raking. But the team can't do all the little things consistently, and it's backfiring yet again.

Top prospect performers for Sunday May 19 (MLB.com)
Carter Kieboom went 2-for-4 on Sunday in Fresno, upping his average to .368/.496/.674 out west.

Cubs won't protest Nationals game after all (ESPN)
"[Maddon] thought he was tapping his foot, which in itself is not illegal, and this all kind of stems from his pitcher being called on something that was a little bit different than what Doolittle was doing," crew chief Sam Holbrook said. "So in our judgment, Doolittle did nothing illegal at all."