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Wire Taps: Sean Doolittle to IL; Max Scherzer will likely return Thursday; Victor Robles’s stellar defense

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

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The most important news from yesterday is that Sean Doolittle will finally get some much-needed rest. (Maybe the Nats should send him on a vacation?) The second-most important news: the Nats won while using three pitchers, two of whom Davey Martinez almost exclusively uses in low-leverage situations. Now, how the Nationals will find the energy for today’s game is an entirely different question.

Here’s the beat from the ‘Burgh.

Dave Martinez did Sean Doolittle no favors, and now the Nats’ closer is on the injured list (WaPo)
Everyone—everyone!—knew that Davey Martinez should have rested Sean Doolittle some more once the team added Daniel Hudson and Hunter Strickland. And yet, in the three games that Doolittle entered in the last nine days in which the Nats led by three or more, Doolittle allowed ten runs on thirteen hits over just two full innings pitched. Just because he's the closer and he says he's ready doesn't mean Davey Martinez can't overrule him. Players will overestimate their bodies sometimes; it's the manager's job to provide adult supervision.

Feeling fine, Scherzer preparing to pitch Thursday (MASN)
Max Scherzer knows: it's not how you feel when you try to rehab, it's how you feel the day after. Two simulated games have come and gone, and Scherzer has felt absolutely fine — meaning the Nats will now slot him in for his normal schedule, starting him against the Pirates on Thursday.

Knee issue lands struggling Doolittle on injured list (MASN)
“It came to a head when I talked to him (and he said) that his right knee’s bothering him,” said Martinez. “So we want to get it right. So we put him on the IL. Hopefully, it won’t take as long, he’s back in 10 days and when he does come back, he’s our closer. And I reiterated that to him. He’s our closer, but we got to get him right.”

Why have the Nationals soared into contention? Start with Victor Robles’s cannon (The Athletic)
Say what you will about his inconsistency at the plate, but Robles's speed and accuracy combined with a cannon of an arm represents the starkest transformation of the Nationals' defense, which went from comically bad to fundamentally sound, especially out in center field, where Robles ranks as the sixth-best center fielder in baseball in fielding, two ahead of Mike Trout.

Nationals' Players' Weekend nicknames, explained (
Some of the names have changed: Patrick Corbin will wear a jersey with "Forty Five" written on the back, while Gerardo Parra isn't using "Baby shark" because "EL YOLO" honors his late grandmother, Yolanda.

Nationals tie home run record (
The last time the Nats hit eight homers in a game was also against Milwaukee, though Wilmer Difo and Bryce Harper contributed to that effort.

Sean Doolittle placed on injured list (
“We talked, and I told him, 'You're not letting anybody down.' But we've got to get you right. He wanted to pitch, he wants to pitch. I said, ‘I want you to pitch. And I want you to pitch the ninth inning in close games for us.’ But I want to make sure that you're healthy, and that's our biggest concern," Martinez said.

Nationals Place Sean Doolittle On Injured List (MLBTR)
Another unmentioned aspect of this move is that Doolittle likely won't close 16 games out from August 27th, his earliest return date, meaning that he'll eschew free agency unless the language of the contract includes games finished in the postseason. (Which, if he's finishing out that many games in October, means something will have to go very right for the Nats.)

Nationals place Sean Doolittle on injured list with right knee tendinitis (WaPo)
Doolittle, clearly, has long since been spent, fatigued, overused, and banged up. And while Davey Martinez now won't commit to any timeline for his return, he'll at least get some much-needed rest and his knee—which apparently has been acting up—will get a reprieve. It makes sense: after your star closer starts throwing 91 MPH on a fastball that's normally 93-96 MPH, you need to do something to keep him healthy for the stretch run.

Nationals blast eight home runs, pound Brewers in series finale (WaPo)
Because the Nats were so tired and dead inside from their brutal 14-inning, 15-14 loss to the Brewers that stretched into the wee hours of Sunday morning, all they could muster on Sunday afternoon was eight home runs for 16 runs. Most importantly, though, the Nats only used three arms all game—none of which included Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland, Wander Suero, Tanner Rainey, or Fernando Rodney, even more important given that Sean Doolittle is now on the IL.

Nats respond to defeat with barrage of longballs in 16-8 victory (MASN)
The Nats went to bed at 4:30 yesterday morning, got back to the ballpark around 11:30, and then the veterans made it clear. “Before the game, everyone kinda says one of those things: ‘Hey, we all get it, you’re all tired, but who cares? We’re here, let’s get the job done.’ Our veteran leadership is the key,” Adam Eaton said.

Struggling Sean Doolittle needs a rest. The Nationals’ season depends on it (The Athletic)
"Consider this: Doolittle allowed just three home runs all of last year, a season cut short by injury but one that still totaled 45 innings in 43 appearances. It is mid-August and he is already at a career high in games finished, has already conceded he was gassed and in uncharted territory in an eight-year big-league career."

Nationals top prospects of the week (
Tyler Dyson has a 1.31 ERA in Auburn, largely because of two games in a row where he went 4+ innings and didn't allow a run.

The Raconteurs Had a Busy Night in Washington (USA Today)
A note: instead of calling them the Raconteurs over the public address to a crowd that very much did not know who the Raconteurs were, the PA could have said "Jack White and the Raconteurs." Anyhow, they went to the Nats game, performed at the Anthem, and then came back for extra innings.