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Wire Taps: Will Stephen Strasburg opt out?; Ryan Zimmerman returns soon; Nationals to wear Expos uniforms

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of the finale with the Fish...

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MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If the Nats can beat the Marlins—the Miami Marlins, who haven’t been good since 2005—they’ll reach .500. It seems plausible; it seems reasonable. Then again, the last time this team had a .500 record was 11-11 on April 23rd, and it’s the Nationals we’re talking about here. Anything is possible.

Here’s the news from Miami:

As Mike Rizzo ponders whether to buy or sell, Nationals stay afloat with another win in Miami (WaPo)
The Nats are one game away from .500, though it nearly didn't get that far as Javy Guerra and Sean Doolittle almost blew a five-run lead. They're eight games back of Atlanta, and Mike Rizzo has to decide whether he's going all-in on this team, a dilemma regarding which he's yet to make a decision.

Could Stephen Strasburg opt out of his contract at season’s end? It’s complicated. (WaPo)
Stephen Strasburg has to decide this winter if he wants to test the open market and bet on making more than $100 million over the next four years, or if he wants to stay pat for the aforementioned price. But if the Nationals sell everything off at the deadline or are unable to retain Anthony Rendon, things could get iffy for Strasburg's future in Washington.

The Nationals bullpen no one expected -- or probably wanted -- is here (NBCSW)
"This is not a normal bullpen year for almost anyone in baseball. It’s not even normal for a Washington organization annually confounded by how to put together a top-end relief group."

Behind the Curtain: Mike Rizzo provides a glimpse into how he watches games, what his day looks like (The Athletic)
Mike Rizzo, as it turns out, sits right behind the 200s, and always hears you when you demand he signs Anthony Rendon. He has a Nyjer Morgan bobblehead from 2010 that he can see while eating food (in this case, Chinese) during the game; the analytics team sits directly behind him with TrackMan technology widely available in his suite. (There's also a huge, expansive interview with Rizzo about his daily routine in here well worth reading.)

With comeback win, Nats within one game of .500 (MASN)
It took the Nats five innings to figure out Zac Gallen — and then it all came together at once, as the Nats rode Patrick Corbin's seven innings of one run ball to a solid team win.

Patrick Corbin strong in Nationals win (
Corbin notched his 1000th strikeout in the majors on Wednesday night with nine strikeouts total.

Zimmerman 'progressing well' in Double-A (
Zimmerman is coming back. Hooray. Also, Kyle Barraclough and Justin Miller are rehabbing steadily and will soon head to West Palm.

With Zimmerman set to return, decisions looming (MASN)
Ryan Zimmerman is on track to come off the IL on Friday — meaning that it's finally time for the Nats to decide just how much they value Michael A. Taylor, Tony Sipp, Gerrardo Parra, and Matt Grace. Once Zimmerman's up in the majors, the Nats need to decide how much playing time he'll get — and how willing they are to put a hole in the lineup.

Washington Nationals to wear 1969 Expos throwbacks on July 6 (WaPo)
The Royals, also an expansion team in 1969, will get their original road grays. Nationals Park will serve poutine. Single-payer healthcare will be available to all Nationals fans with a special ticket, as will access to the scenic mountains of Whistler.

Nats to wear classic Expos uniforms on July 6 (
For the first time since they arrived in DC in 2005, the Nats are breaking out the baby blues. Davey Martinez, for what it's worth, will not be wearing his as tightly as he used to.

Fernando Rodney and Jonny Venters ‘get it.’ The Nationals will find out if they can still get it done. (WaPo)
These relievers—small gambles on pitchers hoping for one last stroke of brilliance—are somehow key to the Nats' bullpen. But they could be worth it if their previous strength in high-leverage situations can continue — and everyone in the organization knows they'll be tested, early.

Mike Rizzo: Max Scherzer's season performance thus far is 'historical' (NBCSW)
"We're seeing something from a major league pitcher that we’re very fortunate because we get to see this every fifth day and this is historical stuff," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "This is one of the great pitchers of our time and a hall of fame caliber guy and a guy who leaves it on the mound each and every day."