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Wire Taps: Max Scherzer wants to return to Nationals’ rotation immediately; Victor Robles’s stellar defense; Nats explode against Trevor Bauer...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news and enjoy the off day whatever you do with it...

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Three days off for Sean Doolittle! It’s a miracle!

Here’s the news from Nats Park:

Victor Robles leads a much-improved Nationals outfield (WaPo)
Robles is suddenly making gold glove plays left and right, throwing out runners and ranging into the gap — meaning that the Nats, for the first time since they started Michael A. Taylor regularly, have a real defensive name in the outfield.

Max Scherzer says next step is pitching in a game (WaPo)
Even if Scherzer does return this weekend, he'll be on a stringent pitch limit — meaning he may be a glorified 4-to-5 inning opener.

Scherzer: "I think I'm ready to pitch in the big leagues" (MASN)
Scherzer feels great after his sim game — and now the question is in the hands of the Nats' medical and coaching staffs: will he be allowed to come back to the majors as early as this weekend, or should Scherzer throw a bullpen and a rehab?

Mid-game offensive explosion lifts Nats to series sweep (MASN)
The third time around, thanks to a few friendly bounces, the Nats got to Trevor Bauer and then some.

Strasburg's bat makes noise in Nats' 17-7 blasting of Reds (MASN)
Stephen Strasburg had yet another middling outing in August, allowing four runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings, though it didn't garner too much attention.

Stephen Strasburg wins 15th, starts offensive landslide as Nats rock Reds (WaPo)
The Nats somehow put up ten runs in the fifth inning, starting with an RBI single from Stephen Strasburg and ending with a 3-run shot from Kurt Suzuki. Hitting really is contagious, it seems.

The Nationals are riding a wave — whether it breaks in playoffs comes down to a pair of arms (WaPo)
If Max Scherzer and Sean Doolittle are healthy, then the Nats can ride their inertia to the finish line. But if Scherzer comes back too soon or Doolittle flames out, then watch out.

Bowden: An early ranking of the top 20 free agents who will be available this offseason (The Athletic)
Jim Bowden thinks the Nats, Rangers, Mets, and Braves will be in on Anthony Rendon, but likes the Rangers' odds the best.

Max Scherzer is days away from returning and it could completely change the N.L. East race (The Athletic)
The Nats are six games back of the Braves with six games to play against them. They could find a way to get over that deficit — and Max Scherzer would have a lot to do with it if he came back strong and stayed healthy.

A day full of positive news passes through at Nationals Park (NBCSW)
This morning, in very good ledes: "WASHINGTON -- Trevor Bauer had seen this flight path before, but it came when he turned around and launched a baseball over the center-field fence from the mound in Kansas City. The July 28 heave marked his last start for the Cleveland Indians."

MLB free agents: Will Smith, Gerrit Cole on the rise (
"Rendon’s market will fall a marked step below the Machado and Harper deals, yet he’ll easily clear nine figures, and he should surpass $150 million. The Nationals would be smart to make the financial commitment on a deal far more manageable than Harper’s. The Yankees continue to loom as a suitor for every marquee free agent, and trading Miguel Andujar could pave the way to splurging on Rendon."

Nationals ace Scherzer says he's ready to return (ESPN/AP)
"I want to get in a game now. I'm ready to get in a game," Scherzer said in the home dugout, soaked with sweat after his throwing session. "I think I'm ready to pitch in the big leagues."

Dozier and others on team expecting baby Nats soon (MASN)
Brian Dozier, Daniel Hudson, and Hunter Strickland are all expecting soon. Davey Martinez apparently feels like a midwife.