Look, there’s a chance—though it’s not too high—that the Nats will find a way to lose to the Baltimore Orioles tonight. If nothing else, you can at least take solace in the fact that one team won’t look like the Men in Black and the other team won’t look like a team of painters.
Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
The Nats could be a problem in the playoffs, even if they don’t win the NL East (WaPo)
Okay, knock on wood before and after reading this article: say the Nats are unable to eek out the NL East from the Braves and end up in the Wild Card game. If they're able to make it out of the one-game playoff—and that's a huge if, given this team's history in elimination games—they would face the Los Angeles Dodgers. And yet, despite the Dodgers' yearlong dominance and the Nats' endless crusade to reach first place, LA may want no part of the Nats, as Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Max Scherzer—if everyone stays healthy, which, yet again, is a massive if—would pitch games one, two, and three. But also consider this: if the Nats make it to the Wild Card game intact, the momentum seems to mean something as Wild Card winners are 6-8 in division series since 2012. Regardless, it's a big step up from May 24th.
Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports (WaPo)
"Far more likely, IF the Nats win the WC/WC game, they face the Dodgers in exactly the situation that Washington has faced in past Octobers --they will be the dangerous underdog facing the everything-to-lose over-dog Dodgers. In just one week, the Nats (6-1) have GREATLY increased their chance of being a WC team, and also a WC team with home field in the WC/WC game."
Aníbal Sánchez, MLB players visit families on off days (WaPo)
Sánchez, the permanent clubhouse DJ, didn't fly straight to Washington from Chicago. Instead, he went to Miami to see his two young children — if he's not pitching the next day, every off day is devoted to his family. After tragedy struck his first child, he knows to savor every minute. Daniel Hudson does it differently, FaceTiming with his two young daughters before every game and every morning — when you're bouncing around the league, it's nice for a family to have a static home base.
Baseball Law Roundup: Dotel, MASN, Verlander, Venezuela (BtBS)
"The Orioles are also treading on thinner and thinner ice. Not only have they lost before every arbitration panel and every tribunal that has reviewed the merits of the arbitration award, but increasingly MLB itself is losing patience with Baltimore’s Birds. Between that and the growing questions about who actually is in charge of running the team, whispers that the Orioles are headed to Nashville continue to swirl. Last time, I remarked that the Orioles’ lawyers have a worse batting average than the team’s first baseman. It seems that may have been overly unfair to Chris Davis."
How does Victor Robles have 15 Defensive Runs Saved? (The SIS Blog)
"Robles has allowed 48% of baserunners to advance on balls he’s fielded in center, a rate that is slightly better than the MLB average of 53%. The key is that Robles has erased 11 baserunners attempting to advance with throws that did not require a cutoff man. Only two other center fielders even have half that many (Ramon Laureano and Jackie Bradley Jr. have seven)."
Zimmerman continues to hit well during rehab stint (MASN)
Ryan Zimmerman, facing single-A pitching because he needs to be rehabbing until rosters expand on September 1st to avoid a decision, and get at-bats, had two hits and a walk on Sunday, and is 6-for-16 over his rehab stint.
Talented and resilient Nats have earned respect of sport (MASN)
Suddenly, the annoying things every good team but the Nats seemed to do—putting together quality at-bats, scoring runners from second, manufacturing runs using methods other than the home run—are now the complaints of the rest of the league regarding the Nats. Their resilience is an important trait in the dugout and one feared throughout the rest of the league — just maybe, just maybe, these guys may be different. (Then again, the slew of "the Nats somehow turned it around" stories aren't gonna help.)
Patrick Corbin Has Lived Up to His $140 Million Payday (Baseball Essential)
Corbin, after one fantastic season, got a massive contract. It wasn't entirely well-received — but towards the end of another strong season in which opposing batters are still struggling to make contact off his slider and can't bring runners home even when they're on base. In short, if he keeps pitching like this, he'll have been well worth it.
Anthony Rendon named NL Player of the Week (MASN)
“I’ll make a case for him right now, yeah,” Martinez replied. “MVP. Gold Glove. My man, Anthony!”
Mason Denaburg has a shoulder strain, Nats source confirms (MASN)
Oddly enough, Denaburg is still in the rookie league while Jackson Rutledge—who the Nats drafted in June—has a 2.42 ERA in Hagerstown over 22.1 IP.
TA30: The Braves have some magic, the A’s have some fight and the Yankees are at it again (The Athletic)
"The Nationals are 16-6 in August, and Max Scherzer is — for the time being — healthy again. The Nats are the oldest team in baseball, and not without their question marks, but thanks to contributions from the entire roster (including Víctor Robles), the Nats have overcome the departure of Bryce Harper to pull into the NL Wild Card lead as the calendar prepares to flip to September."
Could Max Scherzer still be in National League Cy Young contention? (The Athletic)
Hyun-Jin Ryu has a 2.00 ERA — but five weeks remain in the regular season, meaning Max Scherzer has just about a month to make a case for himself as the best pitcher in the Nationals League despite the fact that he missed nearly a month over the summer. If his FIP stays low—like lower than Ryu's by a run—and he gets near Ryu's innings pitched while not giving up too many home runs and staying fresh—he may have a shot. Then again, both teams have October aspirations, meaning they may not let either guy get to their full potential over a full regular season.