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Wire Taps: Derek Lilliquist fired; Stephen Strasburg Ks 1500th; Carter Kieboom’s struggles...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of this weekend’s series with the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park...

St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Nats finally made a change! Granted, it has no immediate impact on the roster nor are the effects all that tangible. But change, given the current state of affairs, is a good thing.

Here’s what’s Phresh in Philly:

Nats fire Derek Lilliquist, name Paul Menhart pitching coach (MASN)
If a few players struggle at once, it's one thing. If an entire pitching staff starts falling apart collectively, it's another. So the Nats brought in the guy who they think knows the pitching staff best and said goodbye to Derek Lilliquist, who hadn't brought real results in his tenure. (He's also apparently much more into analytics?)

Strasburg's health critical to Nats' hopes (MASN)
If Stephen Strasburg keeps throwing his changeup well and stays healthy, he could be dominant this year. Those are two big ifs, though.

Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle help Nats salvage finale vs. Cardinals (WaPo)
The Nats were brought to their knees on Thursday night — and then somehow survived to salvage a win, bringing the team's record to 13-17.

Nationals oust their pitching coach, addressing a symptom but not the disease (WaPo)
The Lerners have a tendency to overcorrect at the highest level the moment something goes wrong. Take the departure of Dusty Baker and Mike Maddux in 2017, for instance, which left them with a manager and a pitching coach that just haven't clicked. It doesn't mean Davey's on the way out as well, but it means that Mike Rizzo and the Lerners failed, yet again, on the coaching front.

Nationals shake things up, fire pitching coach Derek Lilliquist (WaPo)
“The thought process was we felt that both the rotation and the bullpen, we thought that we had some flaws in there,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said after he and Martinez met with Lilliquist on Thursday night. “We thought that there was preparation issues there, and we thought that we wanted to get a new message and a new voice.”

Nationals outfielder Juan Soto scratched from lineup again with back spasms (WaPo)
Juan Soto missed his second straight game due to back troubles, though there appears to be no long-term damage.

Carter Kieboom’s whirlwind first week with the Nationals ends with frustration (WaPo)
Carter Kieboom, like the last few top Nats’ prospects, got thrown up into the big leagues earlier than expected. But unlike Juan Soto and Bryce Harper, he's struggled to find consistency at the beginning of his big-league career, and he knows something is wrong given the talent he displayed in the minors.

Sean Doolittle says it’s time for Nats to play with ‘a little bit more urgency’ (WaPo)
Sean says the Nats can't let themselves spring a trap with the idea that once the team gets healthy, things will get better. Instead, he says, urgency has to come now, because it'll be too late if they just wait for things to sort themselves out.

Stephen Strasburg has lived up to hype (
He hasn't been the next coming of Nolan Ryan. But Stephen Strasburg, the fastest to ever reach 1,500 strikeouts, has put up a 3.16 career ERA, the seventh-best in MLB over the last 10 seasons, won the Nats a playoff game singlehandedly, and when healthy, is one of the best in baseball.

Washington Nationals fire pitching coach Derek Lilliquist (AP)
“Paul Menhart, who I’ve known now for a couple of years, who I’ve talked and worked with, he brings a different kind of energy. He’s positive. He’s a technician. He knows analytics. A lot of our pitchers here have worked with him throughout their whole minor league careers.”

The Marlins will determine the winner of the National League East (BtBS)
The Marlins are atrocious — so they statistically are likely to lose every game they play against the rest of the NL East. It's the teams who turn the likelihoods into reality that won the division in the past, and the same will hold true this year.

Strasburg and Doolittle weave pitching gem in 2-1 win over Cards as Stras punches out 1500th (MASN)
“It’s pretty cool, but I was told a long time ago that strikeouts aren’t everything,” Strasburg said. “I think it’s important to know how to put guys away when you have two strikes. But at the same time, I get myself in trouble when I’m trying to strike them out, so just being aggressive, staying on the offensive against the hitters.”