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Wire Taps: Would Nationals really consider an opener?; Howie Kendrick dominant; What Craig Kimbrel would change...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of the series with the Reds...

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MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in what feels like a while, the Nats have an extended stretch of non-division play. It could be an opportunity to make up some ground; it could also be an opportunity to see just how many homers the bullpen can give up in Great American Ball Park.

Here’s what’s coming up in Cincinnati:

Kimbrel Shmimbrel (The Nationals Review)
What if the Nats had Craig Kimbrel in April? Well, the Nats only lost five games where they had a lead going into the opponents' half of the eighth — so that direct effect is harder to quantify, though they lost a number of games during which they were tied in the eighth. He probably would have accounted for a .500 record, though.

How much are the Nationals really considering using an opener? (WaPo)
Mike Rizzo and Dave Martinez both admitted it on Wednesday: the Nats may well throw a guy in for the first two innings — though it doesn't really make sense given that you would want to use a pitcher who can record outs, which seems unlikely. But if Aníbal Sánchez starts struggling again or Erick Fedde falls to earth, it could get serious consideration.

Nationals: Howie Kendrick Keeps Chugging Along (Baseball Essential)
Howie Kendrick isn't widely seen as a franchise player — but he's been essentially irreplaceable for these Nationals, hitting .328 with career highs in slugging, OPS, exit velo, and barrel percentage among a slew of other Statcast quantities. Where he goes after this season — or even during the middle of this season — is still to be determined.

Victor Robles electrifies the Nationals with risky but rewarding play (WaPo)
Victor Robles is always buzzing with energy, sprinting around the field with intensity, never afraid to get hit by a pitch — and while he sometimes makes mistakes, he can put the ball in play, fire cannons into the infield, and zoom around the bases.

Nationals draft preview 2019 (
The Nationals almost always go for pitching in the first round — but MLBPipeline experts think that the Nats could go for Josh Jung, a third baseman with good on-base skills.

Ocasio-Cortez enemy of freedom video costs Fresno major sponsorships (WaPo)
The Fresno Grizzlies lost a boatload of sponsorships, including Sun-Maid, Tecate, and Dos Equis.

Nationals comfortable with Fresno Grizzlies's investigation of Ocasio-Cortez video (WaPo)
A longtime Fresno employee reportedly selected a video he had used for years, but an updated version featured Ocasio-Cortez.

A Memorial Day mistake in Fresno requires a response from MLB — and it wouldn’t kill the Nats to chime in (The Athletic)
"MLB needs to state, loudly, that what happened in Fresno, whatever the reason or rationale, was taking a political position. And that was wrong. MLB needs to make it clear that fans who pay for tickets and parking and hot dogs and sodas and who also happen to agree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s politics are welcome in every ballpark that has any affiliation with a major-league club, from rookie ball to Triple A, and in every major-league park, too."