Happy All-Star Break! For the first time in Washington Nationals history, a Home Run Derby and All-Star Game will take place without a Washington National logging a moment in either the game or the Derby. (Max Scherzer will attend the game but won’t participate.) At least Bryce Harper isn’t wearing a Nationals cap in all those ads featuring him in Cleveland that ignore the fact he isn’t playing this year.
Here’s what’s cooking in Cleveland:
Anthony Rendon will miss the All-Star Game, but the Nationals can’t miss their window to keep him (The Athletic)
Anthony Rendon has accrued respect in Washington and out of it, from fans, peers, and front office executives. The clubhouse loves him and he dominates night-in and night-out. Now, it's time to get things moving on a deal before the Rangers throw every dollar in the state of Texas at him — and the Nationals need to find the best number before they lose yet another position player post-arbitration.
Max Scherzer’s celebration of a walk-off that wasn’t proves it: Baseball is fun again in D.C. (WaPo)
Dance parties, premature celebrations, video loops, and the third-best record in NL have the Nats enthusiastic and ready to show that they're "the team they thought they were when spring training opened."
Max Scherzer, dealing with back tightness, won’t pitch in All-Star Game (WaPo)
“Our season matters so much more than the All-Star Game,” he added. “This was an opportunity to gain rest, [not] pitch in the All-Star Game.”
Miller, Barraclough on rehab assignments (MASN)
Justin Miller, after missing 42 games, threw live BP a few times and a GCL game in West Palm beach, striking out the side in one game and putting up a spotless inning in another. The good news is that he feels as if he has more mobility in his arm and shoulder than he did before the injury, while Kyle Barraclough is getting started in Potomac on a rehab assignment.
Stiff back will keep Scherzer from pitching in All-Star Game (MASN)
“We all kind of huddled around and realized it’s probably not smart for me to be pitching in the All-Star Game,” the right-hander said. “It really couldn’t happen at a better time, where I can get some rest and get eight days now. I need some rest right now to let this thing fully heal up, so that I’m completely good to go for the second half.”
Max Scherzer (back) won't pitch in All-Star Game (MLB.com)
Scherzer's back first flared up after his start in Detroit, and he pitched through it well enough on Saturday — but he doesn't want to risk it, valuing the second half of the season far more than another night in Cleveland.
Can the All-Star break be enough to get Max Scherzer and Anthony Rendon to full strength ? (The Athletic)
Scherzer will head to Cleveland, though Rendon will stay away and rest up. Scherzer's problem is his back; Rendon is struggling with his toe, quad, and a lot of other ailments. They'll both get some rest ahead of a pennant chase that doesn't look like it'll provide all that much.
A six-week journey resuscitated the Nationals’ season (NBCSW)
In the rearview, it may look like six weeks against crummy teams with players over-performing their baselines that preceded a rapid fall back to earth. But it could also have been the six weeks that brought this season back from the abyss and cemented the team's position as contenders decisively in it, largely due to the fact that they've finally eliminated easy mistakes and are creating a fun-to-watch brand of baseball.
Late-inning heroics send Nationals into All-Star break with yet another series win (NBCSW)
28-39. 10-12. 15-19. Pick your starting date, but no matter how you play it, these Nats are on a roll. The eighth inning, though, was still the eighth inning.
Nationals prospect Carter Kieboom, Futures Game (MLB.com)
Kieboom got a cup of coffee in the majors earlier this year, so he was well-prepared for the Futures Game, notching a stellar play at shortstop and a base hit in what ended as a... tie?
Max Scherzer loses track of inning, celebrates early (MLB.com)
Base hit. Winning run, rounding third.... safe! The one-man dog pile runs onto the field. It is still the eighth inning. Max Scherzer, please return to the dugout, you're embarrassing the kids.
Nats proud of recent rebound but know they still have work to do (MASN)
The Nationals will start the second half of the year with the Braves, Orioles, and Phillies, and every single player knows they have to keep it going to make their recent rebound matter.
Nats rally to close out torrid first half stretch in style (MASN)
“When you’re pitching well, and you’re playing good defense and we can put some runs on the board, it seems like when we’ve gotten down we’ve been able to come back,” Kendrick said. “A lot of late-inning runs for us as a team. That’s really good.”
Doolittle earns the win, but rest is now at the top of his list (MASN)
Sean Doolittle, emptying out all the gas in his tank, had 92 at the knees on Sunday. Needless to say, he was happy about the win — and will happily take four days off to complement the last two he had.
Wild card-leading Nationals reach the all-star break with another series victory (WaPo)
Fernando Rodney stumbled for the first time since joining the Nats, but yet another strong start and late-inning comeback bolstered the team's efforts on Sunday, putting them at 5 games over .500 and in firm possession of a wild card spot.
Nationals end first half with win over Royals (MLB.com)
“When you look back as a player, you never say, ‘Oh man, I hit .300 before the All-Star break,'” manager Dave Martinez said. “You look at the big picture, which is at the end of the year. Let’s be mindful of that. Yeah, we’re playing good, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Look: Nats star prospect Carter Kieboom got name misspelled on jersey and locker (Larry Brown Sports)
I before E except after C. Meaning that if someone's last name is "key-boom," it's spelled with an I before E. MLB didn't really get that one.