Reaching a .500 record seems like a weird benchmark for a team like these Nationals, who some predicted to win the World Series. And yet, they’re only six games under—could be seven by tonight, though—which is somehow promising, because as the Giants proved year after year in the early 2010s, if you hover around .500 for long enough, anything is possible.
Here’s the ridiculous optimism from South Capitol Street:
Examining Stephen Strasburg's Opt-Out Chance (MLBTR)
People tend to regard Stephen Strasburg as a Nat for life, but he can opt out this offseason from his remaining four years and $100 million on his 2016 extension with the team. But the odds seem slim Strasburg would get more on the open market given the events of last offseason — then again, with Scott Boras, all things are possible.
This year’s unluckiest team so far (The Athletic)
The Nationals' hitters have had meh luck when the ball goes into play. Their pitchers have been hurt by bad luck on batted balls. Their run differential should have led to a slightly higher winning percentage. But look at the projections for career norms, and the problem becomes clear for the Nationals — they, if past years continued on, would have a .546 winning percentage. Currently, it sits at .441.
Lucas Giolito, the one that got away, returns to Nationals Park (NBCSW)
Lucas Giolito's cup of coffee at age 21 was impressive enough. But the Nats weren't enamored as they thought they would be with the then super-prospect, and sent him to Chicago for Adam Eaton. Now, at age 24 and finally in command of his own stuff, Giolito has shed the perceptions of being soft and hittable, a poisonous arm in the Chicago rotation.
Even in a rocky outing, Stephen Strasburg shows why Nationals’ strength is their starters (WaPo)
Tuesday was far from Stephen Strasburg's best outing. But he was able to hold the White Sox at bay after he gave up five runs — and it's moments like that when the rotation can recover from blips and pitch otherwise consistently that leave some hope for this season. They're 5th in the majors in starter ERA, and if they keep it up, it might just matter.
Nationals must decide what to do with Trevor Rosenthal by Sunday (WaPo)
The Nationals have to call up Trevor Rosenthal by June 9th — he can't keep rehabbing past that date. Alternatively, they can designate him for assignment or trade him. He's been okay, not disastrous, in Harrisburg thus far.
What to make of Nationals recent surge? (NBCSW)
"Here’s what the Nationals have learned the last two weeks: The manager is not going anywhere. The offense has found firm footing. Average bullpen work is eye-popping after the sketchy, worst-in-the-league operation delivered for two months. Blend those things to find a much easier path to winning."
Nats load up on arms, big bat on Day 2 of Draft (MLB.com)
Drew Mendoza is a pure hitter who draws walks and hits for power — though he is bigger than what the team would like for third base. Matt Cronin closed games in Arkansas, and could be a quick riser through the minors. In the meantime, the Nats drafted Jackson Cluff from BYU, who's fresh off a two-year church mission.
As MLB draft continues, Nationals take college slugger, four more pitchers among Day 2 picks (WaPo)
Drew Mendoza (no relation to Jessica), Tyler Dyson (no relationship to the vacuum), and Todd Peterson (no relation to Adrian) will all join the Nats if the contracts work out.
The Nationals come storming back to beat the White Sox in series opener (WaPo)
The Nats inched back. And then they kept inching back. And then they exploded in the fifth inning for six runs, bringing the game back from the dead with an offense that has taken a simpler approach at the plate and a team that seems to be playing a somewhat cleaner brand of baseball.
Strasburg credits teammates for comeback, 100th victory (MASN)
Strasburg earned his spot in the Nationals' record books last night on what was one of his worst starts of the season, largely due to a first inning that got away from him. For once, the offense and bullpen picked up the slack, and Strasburg reached lucky number 100.