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Wire Taps: Juan Soto through 162 games; Tanner Rainey getting trust in Nationals’ ‘pen; What led to the Nats’ improvement?

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of the second of four with the Padres...

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MLB: Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. It’s unclear at this point if the Nats are gonna win or lose, so let’s just assume the bullpen blew it. (Written at 12:37 AM EST)

Here’s the scoop from San Diego:

Juan Soto's numbers through 162 games compare favorably to MLB legends (NBCSW)
Soto was only 20 years and 216 days old at Game 162 — and over that full season’s worth of at bats, he had 107 RBI, hit .292, and put up a .921 OPS. The only names really ahead of him at this age: Griffey, Robinson, Mantle, Williams, and Trout.

There are two things we know about the state of the Nationals, and the rest will make for a fascinating month (The Athletic)
It makes sense that things have gotten better — they really couldn't have gotten worse. We also now know that Davey won't be going any time soon, and the NL East is atrocious. It's mainly because of an improved offense, a healthy lineup, improvement from guys like Juan Soto and Brian Dozier and A-1 starting pitching.

One more outing for Trevor Rosenthal before decision (MASN)
“He’s had two pretty decent outings,” Martinez said. “I know yesterday, I know it’s on video of him giving up a home run, but he’s throwing strikes. Which is nice. He’s throwing the ball where he needs to throw it. If he has another good outing, he’s OK.”

Nationals’ Night Out provided the ‘perfect setup’ for a surprise marriage proposal (WaPo)
Teddy West got to answer a Nats trivia question on the jumbotron on Tuesday night. Then his partner, Aaron Howell, asked him a "bonus" question on the jumbotron with a number of their friends in attendance.

The Nationals’ Gerardo Parra has 8,000 reasons to root for the Raptors in the NBA Finals (WaPo)
The Giants went in on the NBA playoffs together. Every player picked a team at random — Gerardo Parra got the Raptors. Then he got DFAd, but he may just get one more gift from the Bay Area.

Michael A. Taylor to get more playing time vs. Padres (
Taylor has done well enough pinch hitting, but against a lefty-heavy rotation in SoCal, Davey Martinez wants to get him some extra reps. Trevor Rosenthal will also get one more day of rehab on Saturday before the Nats have to make a call on him.

Nationals make 30 selections on final day of draft (MASN)
The Mr. Irrelevant for this year's Nationals is Canadian!

Hard-throwing Rainey earning Martinez's trust out of 'pen (MASN)
Tanner Rainey has been consistently willing to pitch, on short rest and in rough situations. He isn't picky, and it's earned him Davey Martinez's trust as his ERA has fallen down to 2.25.

The Bowden Big Board: A position-by-position look at the best trade targets available (The Athletic)
Bowden contends that Sean Doolittle and Anthony Rendon lead their respective categories of players in terms of the best targets for other teams, so long as things don't turn around.

The manager role has changed, so why are they still scapegoats for a team’s failure? (The Athletic)
Managers used to be considerably more accountable for everything that happened on a baseball diamond, in charge of decisions and roster choices more so than they are now. And yet we still immediately zero in on them as scapegoats the moment anything goes wrong — take the NL East, where every manager seems to be on some form of the hot seat.