One could argue that this next two weeks of games against the Marlins, Tigers, and Royals is equally crucial to the last series against the Braves. If the Nats can knock off 8 or 9 of 12, they’ll move to either one or three games above .500, right where they need to be at the break. Alternatively, they could be crushingly disappointing and mire themselves in mediocrity or lose a majority of the games, which would likely be the precursor to a sell-off.
Here’s what’s happening in Little Havana:
The Nationals Have a Chance to Save Their Season (Fangraphs)
Since a meltdown in Queens, the Nats are 18-9. They have a 33% chance of a Wild Card berth, on the coattails of a much improved (though certainly unfixed) bullpen and a projected fifth-best record in baseball the rest of the way. If they can capitalize on games against the league's weakest in these coming weeks, they may just have a shot.
Get all your Nationals updates on the back of this area man’s 2004 Chrysler Sebring (WaPo)
Nick Zumwalt, 36, says his wife "tolerates" his Natitude tracker. Initially, it was for seven twitter followers — and now he's in the mid-hundreds. (Alternate caption: Oh, so when he does it, it's fine, but when I paint the scores on Metro cars, it's "defacing public property?")
How Nationals closer Sean Doolittle became a dominant one-pitch reliever (WaPo)
Sean Doolittle, once a position player-turned-reliever in Oakland, saw Kurt Suzuki call a curveball in his first game, so he threw the pitch. The batter crushed it for a double, and Billy Beane was ticked off — he wanted Doolittle to trust his four-seam that rises so much, the best and only pitch he had at that point. It initially threw him off, but he's learned the advantages of predictability and makes the most of it through deception and serious amounts of video analysis.
The secret intricacies of the Nats' outfield defense (MASN)
The Nats' defense relies on position cards, Bobby Henley, the pitcher on the mound, pre-game strategy, and what the group upstairs thinks will happen with any given batter. Interestingly enough, both are trying to move on from the cards, and try to adjust mid-game with internal communication or by meeting with Davey Martinez and Henley — and sometimes, instinct takes over anyway.
Nationals to add 42-year-old veteran reliever Fernando Rodney to 25-man roster (WaPo)
Rodney will, once again, become the oldest player in Major League Baseball. If Rodney falters, Dakota Bacus, a career minor leaguer, could make an appearance.
Fernando Rodney called up to Nationals (MLB.com)
The Nats called up Rodney, who had a 4.50 ERA in Fresno, because somehow that's an improvement over what they have now.
Here's why Nats think Howie Kendrick is an All-Star (MLB.com)
Adam Eaton can't believe that Kendrick, at age 36, is doing what he's doing in the majors — though Kendrick doesn't think he's doing all that much differently than what he was doing before aside from the influence that Kevin Long had on him to remove his leg kick and stride towards the pitcher. Of course, he still needs his off days.
Nationals option Erick Fedde to Triple-A Fresno (MLB.com)
Fedde took over for Jeremy Hellickson last month, but has been unable to go deep into games, so the Nats decided to give Austin Voth a shot with his renewed velocity on the fastball.
Source: Nationals calling up 42-year-old reliever Rodney (MASN)
The Nats, in an effort to sign and play every questionable reliever in baseball, have for some reason decided to replace Trevor Rosenthal with a reliever whose numbers are almost as bad.
Fedde optioned to Fresno, opening door for Voth to start again (MASN)
"Fedde had assumed the No. 5 starter’s job over the last month, and had pitched well for much of that time, posting a 2.70 ERA in four outings. But he gave up five runs in six innings to the Diamondbacks on June 13, then issued five walks in only 3 2/3 innings Thursday against the Phillies."
Nationals option starter Erick Fedde to minors, but more roster decisions loom (WaPo)
Voth looks like he'll get one more shot with his heavier frame and faster four-seam, while Erick Fedde felt like his last few games were embarrassing. In the meantime, Kyle Barraclough could come back soon to replace Kyle McGowin, but Ryan Zimmerman's return will facilitate yet another roster move.
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It’s not ok to exploit anyone in any profession. The minor leaguers deserve better. They deserve more money. They deserve better conditions. Period. My quotes are simply from my personal experience. I wouldn’t trade my minor league experience for anything. As difficult as it was, it has made me the ball player/person I am today. I’m sorry if I offended anyone in anyway. Wasn’t my intentions.