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Wire Taps: Juan Soto a stolen base threat; How Max Scherzer can help ‘pen; How the Nationals deal with tipped pitches...

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

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Max Scherzer pitches today.

Here’s the beat from PNC Park:

Nationals’ Juan Soto is now a legit threat to steal bases (WaPo)
Quietly, Soto has swiped 12 bags this year — yet another facet of his game upon which he's been working diligently, never skipping leg day and getting in some cardio work on the beach in the DR while learning to better read pitchers. Even if he doesn't become a 20-20 threat, it's one more thing for pitchers to worry about.

Max Scherzer’s return could positively impact the Nats even on the days he doesn’t pitch (WaPo)
Scherzer, before his summer sabbatical, was the most dominant pitcher in baseball without question. If he returns to form, he—instead of anyone who's a regular reliever, a job that's proven to be a struggle league-wide—can take the ball for the seventh and eighth on any given start, and equally importantly, keep the rest of the bullpen's arms fresh.

Patrick Corbin continues dominant run in 11-1 win (MASN)
“You’ve got to understand: As the season goes on, guys are going to start making adjustments to what’s working for him,” catcher Yan Gomes said. “I mean, guys were swinging at the first pitch right away. If he’s throwing it good, keeping the ball down, you might as well keep doing that and go a pretty fast eight innings.”

How the Nats and Strasburg diagnosed tipped pitches (MASN)
As it turns out, Stephen Strasburg was tipping his pitches to the DBacks — specifically, his changeup, which Arizona took for balls at a startlingly high rate. With the influx of technology in baseball, the way teams are figuring out opposing pitchers' tendencies is changing and developing — and unsurprisingly, if Max Scherzer is tipping his pitches, he wants to know immediately.

For surging Nationals, the most important questions can only be answered in October (Sporting News)
"But what happened in 2012 has no bearing on what happens in 2019, of course. So back to the question at hand: Is this year's team good enough to win a series in October? Yes, this team is good enough. It's not a perfect team, but it's a team with necessary pieces, assuming those key pieces are healthy in October."

Corbin cruises with arm, bat in stellar outing (
Patrick Corbin—who had a shot at a complete-game shutout but instead sat out the ninth—dominated the Pirates for eight innings on the mound with a devastating slider, while also scoring and knocking an RBI double.

Rendon reaches 100-RBI mark for 2nd time (
Rendon last drove in 100 runners in the 2017 season, but he did it a whole lot later than this, meaning he'll quite likely set a career high this year.

15 players who will decide playoff berths (
"If Mad Max is at his best, the Nationals may not just simply make the postseason -- they could be the most serious threat to the Dodgers' quest for a third straight National League pennant."

Hunter Strickland broken nose barbell (
Strickland attached a mobility cord to a barbell to hold it steady as he worked — and then when he grabbed the cord, the bar came down with it. The good news: the break was clean and he'll be all good to go.

After one-day lull, Nationals’ bats awaken in another rout of Pirates (WaPo)
In their eighth win in ten games, the Nats yet again gave their A-list bullpen a night off with dominant offense. Last night, the third inning was what got things going — though they only scored 11 runs, a paltry night in comparison to their last few games.

Nationals’ Hunter Strickland explains how weightlifting session resulted in his broken nose (WaPo)
“I’m still cleared to play, so that’s what matters,” he continued. “It could have been a lot worse. I just found the positive with it and move forward.” (Also, expect Dave Jageler on your TV tonight instead of Bob Carpenter.)

Strickland on broken nose: "It could've been a lot worse" (MASN)
Also, it looks like Joe Ross will get the ball on Saturday, but that makes things unclear for Erick Fedde.

Breaking down the key decisions in Tuesday's loss (MASN)
Why did Davey pull Stephen Strasburg? (He had thrown over 100 pitches in his last start and the bullpen was rested.) Why did he go to Wander Suero? (Lefty matchups, apparently, though it doesn't make too much sense.) What happened to Daniel Hudson? (Bad fastballs and poor location.)

Carter Kieboom Named Washington Nationals 2019 Minor League Player Of The Year (Baseball America)
Kieboom, despite his struggles during his cup of coffee in late April and early May, absolutely dominated in Fresno this season, hitting .304 with 16 homers and 75 RBI. Equally importantly, he's worked "tirelessly" to improve his defense, further cementing him in the team's plans.