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Wire Taps: Max Scherzer throws again; Nationals’ bullpen implodes; Sean Doolittle rests again

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of the series with the Braves...

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MLB: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the starters of the last two games only lasted six innings each; even though Javy Guerra was pitching for the second night in a row; even though it all came out in the wash thanks to losses for the Phillies and Braves; even though Wander Suero was pitching through a personal issue, last night’s game should’ve made something very clear to Mike Rizzo: if any combination of Nationals relievers can blow a game against the Orioles, he can’t possibly trust the bullpen as it is down the stretch in games against the Braves, Dodgers, and Brewers. By all means, last night should have triggered a move — we’ll see if it does.

Here’s what’s going on in Georgia:

Boswell: The Nats believed in Dave Martinez even when no one else did. Including me. (WaPo)
The Nats were always behind Davey Martinez, and they worked their way back into the pennant race (no matter how depressing last night seemed). Now, it's time for him to show if he's just another "one of the guys" who can keep the team loose but can't get them over the hump, or if he's got real managing chops. The most important thing for him — he bought himself some time.

The Nationals are filling the power void by committee — and it’s working (WaPo)
No singular set of players have stepped up in the absence of Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. Instead, the Nats are spreading the love, from Anthony Rendon to Juan Soto to Matt Adams, Brian Dozier, Kurt Suzuki, and Howie Kendrick. They can keep up, even if they aren't leading the way in power numbers.

Max Scherzer throws again, no decision yet on Sunday start (MASN)
Scherzer threw from up to 90 feet on flat ground, and Davey Martinez called the session encouraging, but neither Paul Lessard or Martinez would commit to him pitching this weekend.

Martinez finds a way to get Kendrick in the lineup (MASN)
“My decision was to get him four at-bats tonight,” Martinez said. “Would I like to play Howie 162 games? Absolutely. But the biggest thing is to keep him healthy and keep him fresh. But today was a good day to get him in there and get him some at-bats. Get some DH. And then we will see where we go this weekend.”

After Fedde's quick hook, bullpen implodes in 9-2 loss (MASN)
Tuesday looked so, so promising. Wednesday looked about the same until Erick Fedde left the game after 66 pitches, prompting Wander Suero (whose mind was elsewhere), Tony Sipp, Javy Guerra, and Matt Grace to enter the game and serve up eight runs to the pitiful Orioles, thus ending with a bang the strong stretch they enjoyed following the All-Star Game.

Rosenthal: Angels’ pursuit of pitching; Who’s on third? A guide; help from an unlikely source; more deadline notes (The Athletic)
"The Dodgers long have coveted Rendon (which team hasn’t?) and could move Justin Turner to first in the final year of his contract... The Nats and Brewers will be in the market if they lose Rendon and Moustakas, respectively."

Why the biggest win for the Nationals on Tuesday night won’t even register in the box score (The Athletic)
Sean Doolittle, with an all-important stretch of games coming up, didn't leave the Nats' bullpen once while they were in Baltimore, meaning he's now on four days of rest almost immediately after the All-Star Break. Perhaps more importantly: he's getting an extended break after throwing more pitches in a season already than he has since 2014.

Two Weeks Will Determine the Next Two Months (The Nationals Review)
The Nats coasted into the All Star Break with the Marlins, Tigers and Royals for 12 games. The next four series: Atlanta, Colorado, Los Angeles, Atlanta. If the Nats go 8-8 without too many losses at Atlanta, they'll be well in the race. If they go 13-3, they'll have created for themselves a legit shot at the NL East. If things go haywire, though, the odds that the Nats get to the Wild Card game will seem more slim, meaning the deadline strategy may well change.

Soto gets mad after getting hit on shin, takes it out on baseball (MASN)
Adams' homer got more attention seeing as it landed on Eutaw, but Soto's story was considerably more interesting on Tuesday night: after ricocheting a pitch off his shin, Soto got mad at the pitcher, or maybe the ball, or something, and then sent it for a long, long ride.

Mike Rizzo provides an injury update on Max Scherzer (NBCSW)
"If he’s capable of pitching he will," Rizzo said.