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Wire Taps: Mike Rizzo open to extending Juan Soto; Max Scherzer rehabbing in the majors; Nationals about to get influx of lefty relievers

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news and enjoy your off day before this weekend’s series with the Fish...

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Nats have another day off today before they face off with the Marlins. Then, things get real: over the following eighteen days, the Nationals will face the Mets, Cardinals, and Braves with just one off day interspersed.

Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:

20-Year-Old Nationals Phenom Juan Soto Is What Bryce Harper Was Supposed to Be (Bleacher Report)
Bryce Harper had the spotlight on him from day one, while Soto more stumbled into it, but Harper's career has been something of a disappointment, with his impressive accolades not matching his sky-high expectations. Soto, who had lower expectations when he first cracked the majors (straight from Double-A!), has been more consistent than Harper was in his sophomore year, walks at an incredible pace and has learned to crush both off-speed and fastballs. It's early yet, but Soto sure looks like a much more consistent version of Harper without the young temper.

The Nationals are ready to extend Juan Soto, but will he sign on the dotted line? (NBCSW)
He's not even done with his second season, but Mike Rizzo has already made it clear: if Juan Soto would sign for ten years and $180 million, the Nats would give it to him. Now, if he would sign that is another question, but the Nats seem driven to retain Soto's play and clubhouse contributions over the long haul.

‘Your mom’ jokes, Elton John shades and tribute piggyback rides: How the Nationals are keeping it loose (The Athletic)
Henry Blanco is leaving "your mom" jokes in Asdrubal Cabrera's locker, sprawled on a baseball he hit for a homer; Matt Adams has ridden Ali Modami down the dugout dance line; Gerardo Parra and Aníbal Sánchez are wearing Elton John glasses in the dugout. The Nats, in the midst of their best 80-game run in franchise history, are acting like a bunch of kids in the dugout, and it's fun for everyone to watch and be a part of.

The Nationals are accustomed to relying on Max Scherzer. Now, he’s relying on them. (WaPo)
Scherzer, in essence, is rehabbing in the majors. If the Nats are going to play deep into October, they need Scherzer to be himself — but for now, he's taking things slow and letting the rest of the team take the brunt of the load. It's an odd departure from the norm for the player who sets the tone most of the time, but if he figures out how to pitch well while restraining himself, he may somehow get better, he claims.

Nationals’ left-handed relief options looking up with Sean Doolittle, Roenis Elías nearing returns (WaPo)
At this point—August 29th—it may well make more sense to keep them both rehabbing until September 1st, but both Elías and Doolittle threw 16 pitches off the mound and felt good. Doolittle—whose problems were mechanical from the get-go-—is also working on not tipping his pitches, while Elías is just trying to get back from injury.

The Nationals were right to sign Patrick Corbin (BtBS)
"The moral, though, is that the Nationals were essentially correct in their analysis. Just like Scherzer had a lower career innings total than the usual free agent, as did Corbin. And just like we had analyzed last year, the effectiveness of his fastball/slider tunneling made him one of the best pitchers of 2018, and that trend was real and sustainable. Though five years remain and it’s clear he has the chance to stumble, the evidence shows he has the ability to quickly overcome."

Doolittle and Elías on verge of return after simulated game (MASN)
“I’d like to have them both back as soon as possible,” manager Davey Martinez said. “That would be nice. But at the same time, we have to make sure we check all the boxes.”

Luis Garcia highlights Nats’ prospects on Arizona Fall League's Surprise roster (MASN)
Aside from Garcia and Carter Kieboom, it's mainly righties on the AFL roster, with Jacob Condra-Bogan, Andrew Lee, and Sterling Sharp carrying the banner while Nick Raquet, Jakson Reetz, Nick Banks, and Cole Freeman.

Lineup returns to form, Scherzer builds up arm in win (MASN)
Of note: Adam Eaton got drilled in the right knee and is day-to-day, though he thinks he'll be okay for tomorrow.

With one prescient observation, Patrick Corbin illustrates the fragility of the Nationals’ torrid run (WaPo)
One real quote came out of the Nats' clubhouse last night, and it came from Patrick Corbin, of all people. He made a great point: if the Nationals can lose to the Orioles on a given night, they can lose to anyone in a Wild Card game — which is why buying a ticket to the division series is so important.

One night later, Nationals take care of business against lowly Orioles (WaPo)
The Nats dropped five in the first and another three throughout the rest of the game, ensuring that Max Scherzer's short start in which he looked slightly more like himself but not quite ready for prime time still got him a win.

Max Scherzer reaches 200 strikeouts (MLB.com)
Scherzer took another step in the right direction, allowing two runs over 4 and 1/3 innings against the Orioles — but more interestingly, he punched out his 200th batter for the eighth consecutive season.