When the Nats were ten under .500, the typical logic went as follows: to make it to 90 wins, the Nats needed to play roughly .600 ball for the entire season. To seriously contend for the playoffs, they needed to probably play better. Since May 24th, they’re 17-7 — good for a .703 winning percentage. They have a 49.3% chance of making the playoffs, per Fangraphs, and 36%, per FiveThirtyEight. They aren’t back in this thing yet, not by a long shot. But they’re trending in the right direction.
Here’s the news from Nationals Park:
Brian Dozier’s slow start had fans concerned. He and the Nationals weren’t worried. (WaPo)
Brian Dozier has his swagger back after he hit below .200 for the first two months of the season, hitting .327 over his last 15 games, no surprise to his former teammates in Minnesota or himself.
The Nationals simplified Matt Grace’s role to set him straight. Now it will expand again. (WaPo)
Grace's ERA went up to 8.55 on May 17, so the Nationals simplified his role, making him a matchup specialist, which led him to nine scoreless appearances in a row. Now, the Nats need him an inning or two at a time, and it went poorly on Thursday.
Max Scherzer has been a $210 million steal for the Nationals (WaPo)
Scherzer has been worth 29.9 wins above replacement. A win is worth $8 million on the open market, meaning Scherzer has been worth $239.40 million. He is only the second $100 million pitcher since 2013 to eclipse the value of his contract.
Nationals to extend protective netting almost all the way to foul poles (WaPo)
“There are so many other things going on around the stadium, advertisements, stuff on the video board, the mascots running up and down the seats. There are vendors. There are a lot of other things that are competing for your attention,” Doolittle continued. “It’s unrealistic to say, ‘Oh, you should just pay attention to the game.’ Come on, man. We’ve created this experience for fans, and I think we have an obligation to make sure that they stay safe.”
A Letter from Mark D. Lerner: Nationals Announce Extension of Protective Field Netting (Nats PR)
The Nats, Lerner said, citing the heartbreaking moment when a foul ball struck a young child in Houston, will add Ultra Cross Knotless Dyneema to all their old netting locations, making things more visible and allowing for more fan interaction — but also seriously extending the netting itself.
Nationals to extend safety netting down lines (MLB.com)
“As somebody that watches the vast majority of games behind a screen or chainlink fence, I promise you, you get used to it really, really quickly,” Doolittle said. “It doesn’t hinder your view at all. ... I promise you that you can still see the game, and after five minutes, you don’t even notice that it’s there.”
Nationals clubhouse supports plan to extend netting (MASN)
The Nats saw firsthand how shocking it is when a foul ball strikes a fan, and were all for extending the netting — as Sean Doolittle said, they see their safety as an obligation.
Martinez: Zimmerman likely to start rehab soon (MASN)
“It’s getting better,” Zimmerman said. “I’m starting to run. You just have to do it a few days in a row, get nothing (going wrong), no setbacks. That’s kind of where we are at now.
Nationals complete sweep for 4th straight win (MLB.com)
Every National got a t-shirt at the beginning of this series: "Stay in the fight," they read, with "162+" on the back. Now, they've almost clawed back to .500 and are definitively staying in the fight.
Nationals make it a sweep of the Phillies with East-leading Braves up next (WaPo)
For once, the defense held it together; the bullpen didn't implode; the big hits came; the Nats escaped a poor start and won a gutsy game.
Nationals blast Phillies en route to series sweep (MASN)
The Nats are 17 for their last 24, two games under, and completed a three game sweep thanks to the absolute domination of Victor Robles against Philadelphia.
Nationals players believe extended safety netting is a ‘no-brainer’ (NBCSW)
“You only have to pay attention to small snippets of the game,” Turner told NBC Sports Washington. “I just want people to pay attention. You can’t block everybody off from a foul pop that goes over the net, that can still hit people. You’re not going to foolproof it.”
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment (NBCSW)
Zimmerman has been on the IL since April 28 with plantar fasciitis, and is still experiencing pain on the basepaths while running. He hasn't really gotten past that yet, but the Nats will have him run the bases anyway before he goes on a rehab assignment.
‘It’s just a flawed system’: Players are speaking out about All-Star snubs. Here’s what they’re saying (The Athletic)
Anthony Rendon leads all NL third basemen in WAR, OBP, slugging, OPS, and a number of other statistics. JT Realmuto has dominated all year long. But because of the new All-Star ballot system, big-market players with high name recognition are dominating the players who are actually the best in the league, and everyone from Adam Jones to David Price to Tommy Pham is unhappy.