Another day, another baseball-free evening. On the bright side, trade rumors have to be coming soon, right?
Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
Nationals dance their way from rock bottom to playoff race (AP)
“Any way we could lose a game, we found a way to do it,” first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “Then you go to New York and get swept, lose four games in a row, you feel like you’re at rock bottom.”
The Nationals have four reliable starting pitchers. They need a fifth to emerge. (WaPo)
Austin Voth will likely get another shot, but he's been anything but consistent thus far. Jeremy Hellickson has disappeared into the void, Erick Fedde is struggling in Triple-A, Kyle McGowin is trapped in limbo, and Joe Ross is somewhere out there.
Nationals activate reliever Kyle Barraclough, option him to Class AA Harrisburg (WaPo)
Barraclough will now work his way back up through the minors towards Washington — but he'll need to find some lost velocity on his fastball first.
Barraclough reinstated from injured list, optioned to Harrisburg (MASN)
Barraclough won't necessarily have to work through Triple-A, and is at Harrisburg instead for the easy accessibility to Washington compared to Fresno — but the Nats are sticking with Fernando Rodney, Wander Suero, and Tanner Rainey for now.
Nationals' first-half report card (MASN)
Yan Gomes (C-) has struggled mightily in comparison to last year both at the plate and behind it, while Kurt Suzuki (B+) has done much better than anticipated. Oddly, Scherzer doesn't get an A+, and the lowest grade goes not to Trevor Rosenthal (not on the list) but Michael A. Taylor.
Voth seeks to fine-tune fastball glove side as he preps for Orioles (MASN)
Voth thinks the glove-side fastball is what's throwing him off in starts, because he can't locate it, meaning he can't set up his secondary pitches — a rather Patrick Corbin-esque problem to have.
Sean Doolittle opens up about trade rumors: 'I don't want to leave' (NBCSW)
Doolittle went through it once, but the trade process still doesn't excite him — and barring a massive downfall in fortunes over the coming three weeks, he won't be part of it again. But he's made it clear: he doesn't want to leave, and he feels at home in this organization.
Nine things we learned in the first half (MLB.com)
The Nationals and Indians are worth watching, after all, parity is abundant, and Max Scherzer is still good (the last one wasn't in there but was still worth a mention).
Nationals in need of relief pitching (MLB.com)
Since their return to contention, the Nats have become buyers — but they want to stay under the luxury tax. They have Michael A. Taylor, Carter Kieboom, and a number of good but not great prospects available, likely meaning they'll be in the bidding for Kirby Yates or Alex Colomé.
Six players who could be defensive difference-makers in the second half (The Athletic)
"The Nationals are not a strong defensive team. But they thought they could count on [Trea] Turner to be a good defensive player. He’ll be playing every day in the second half. If he can revert to the best version of himself and look something like this, the Nationals will be considerably better for it."
Break's over ... here are your Power Rankings (MLB.com)
The Nationals are number nine (there's nothing else written about them).