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Wire Taps: Nationals still have an eighth inning problem; Stephen Strasburg is immaculate; Max Scherzer goes on paternity leave

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the ridiculously early 11:00 AM start time for today’s game...

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Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Happy Fourth of July! As a heads-up, today’s game is at 11 AM, so plan around that. Also, let’s just take a moment to appreciate Sean Doolittle being perhaps the most relatable player in baseball:

Here’s the news from Nationals Park:

The Nats are surging, but their eighth-inning problem hasn’t gone away (WaPo)
If, on May 24th, you had the Nats tied for the second wild card by July 4th, come collect your wager. Now, if you had Fernando Rodney as the eighth-inning guy, please come inform us about the next fifteen US presidents. Still, the Nats are averaging .83 runs given up in the eighth, and they're getting away with it against bad teams — but when things come down to the wire, they'll need someone to step up, or they'll need Fernando Rodney and Jonny Venters to perform consistently. (Really, they need to make a trade, but, hey, one thing at a time.)

‘Grieving in a fishbowl’: Baseball players on the challenges of mourning in the public eye (The Athletic)
The Angels drafted them together, traded them to Arizona together, where they made their debut together, after which they were always together. Nobody, especially Patrick Corbin, knew what to do after his death or how to cope — and in Major League Baseball, where teams are together constantly, the constant reminders are tough to deal with.

Davey Martinez still seeks answers for solving eighth inning (MASN)
Wander Suero and Tanner Rainey haven't had it their last few games. Rodney and Venters are interesting but unproven at this point. Is there one answer, or do the Nats need to attack it situationally until more help arrives?

Anthony Rendon still unsure about going to Cleveland for All-Star Game (WaPo)
Even fans are beginning to ask him if he'll go to Cleveland — and he has no answers for them. He says his minor injuries are slowing him down and hasn't made a call, but he jokingly did say he'll tweet out his announcement.

Strasburg's 14-strikeout gem lifts Nats over Miami again (MASN)
As easy as it sounds to roll through an advantageous schedule, many teams struggle to win when they're statistically favored to do so. As of now, these Nats (knock on wood) haven't encountered that problem, largely due to their stellar starting pitching.

Scherzer goes on paternity leave but will start Saturday (MASN)
"With his wife, Erica, due to give birth to the couple’s second daughter Thursday, Scherzer has been placed on the paternity leave list. The transaction allows the right-hander to take three days off to be with his growing family without missing a start, and it allows the Nationals to add an extra player (Adrián Sanchez) to their bench in the interim."

Scherzer named NL Pitcher of the Month (MASN)
It's awards season in July! A Pitcher of the Week award, a Pitcher of the Month award, and Jayson Stark's NL 1/2 Cy Young Award for Max.

Stark: MVPs and LVPs, Cy Youngs and Cy Yuks — handing out my midseason awards (The Athletic)
"So then my question became: Was it crazy to pick Max Scherzer over Ryu for the half-Cy Young when Ryu led Scherzer (2.43) in ERA by more than half a run? Now here’s what I decided: Not crazy — because Scherzer leads Ryu (and the rest of the league) in numerous other important categories, too. In fact, those leads are actually fairly mammoth."

Stephen Strasburg tosses immaculate inning as part of a gem vs. Marlins (WaPo)
Strasburg threw 7.1 innings with 14 strikeouts, the Nats homered again, and Sean Doolittle slammed the door. It was a decent, passable win for the bullpen and the offense that continued this odd run for the Nationals.

Max Scherzer on paternity leave; Adrian Sanchez takes roster spot (WaPo)
The baby, though still a few days from being born, has been ranked baseball's number three prospect on

Strasburg tosses first career 'immaculate inning' (ESPN)
"It kind of dawned on me a little later on," Strasburg said. "The first pitch of that inning, I threw it on the plate but we were set up in and I threw it away. For some reason, I didn't really think it was called a strike. But I guess it was."

Methodical maniac Max Scherzer prepares for everything, throwback uniforms included (NBCSW)
Scherzer once forced Matt Williams to sing the National Anthem before a bullpen session during spring training, so this isn't actually that surprising.

The Nats are right back in this thing, despite being a dumpster fire for their first 50 games (The Comeback)
The turnaround isn't surprising, but it has implications throughout all of baseball — they likely won't be sellers anymore, and they're one of the few teams who could actually match the Dodgers in the NLDS or NLCS with their starting rotation.