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Wire Taps: Nationals clinch and celebrate; Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg for the Wild Card game?; Does home-field matter?

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Catch up on the last clinchy 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of another game with the Phillies...

MLB: Game Two-Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Say what you will about the bullpen, about the prospect of Davey Martinez in the postseason, about Max Scherzer’s health. But this team will see the light of October, which is pretty hard to believe even now.

Here’s the news from Nats Park:

Nationals shortstop Trea Turner has been playing hurt all year and he’s the only one not impressed by it (The Athletic)
Trea Turner's right index finger is beyond messed up — and yet he throws the ball accurately, pops grand slams, and mans shortstop with one finger off the bat, a somewhat broken middle finger, and a whole lot of guts.

A wild 36 hours: Behind the scenes of the Nationals’ playoff-clinching series (The Athletic)
The Nats dreamed of their clinch since falling 19-31 on, yes, May 24th. On September 24th, it finally happened in tandem with a Pirates’ win over the Cubs and a come-from-behind Nationals’ win to sweep a doubleheader. Then, they celebrated with conga lines, MVP chants, baby shark as Bryce Harper complimented the organization from the visitors' clubhouse.

The Nats earned their spot in the postseason, but they still have unfinished business (WaPo)
The Nats went from a precarious spot at the top of the Wild Card chase to a spot in the playoffs all at once in the span of two games over one day. After going 19-31, they went 69-38, and for that, they deserve to celebrate — but now they need to figure out how to approach the Wild Card game. Do the everyday players get a day off? Or should the Nats throw everything at home-field? Should Scherzer start? (Boswell thinks Stephen Strasburg should get the ball, believe it or not.) Also, Trea Turner doesn't really think home-field matters given the Nats' previous records in winner-take-all games — and whatever team wins the Wild Card may well have a shot at dethroning the Dodgers.

Nationals Wild Card Game questions to answer (MLB.com)
The Nats and Brewers are now even in terms of games played — both have five more games — but home teams are 6-8 in Wild Card games, so the location isn't exactly pivotal. Also, it's Max's day on October 1st, apparently.

Nats' WC Game starter likely to be Scherzer (MLB.com)
"“For me, let’s get through today and see how he’s feeling and how he’s doing,” Martinez said. “The last two outings, he’s felt really good. I’m hoping that he goes out there today and pitches the way he pitches here his last start, and then we’ll go from there.”"

Boras Dishes On Opt-Outs, Upcoming Free Agents (MLBTR)
Scott Boras didn't make it sound like Stephen Strasburg was particularly intent on exercising his opt-out clause, though he didn't rule it out either.

Strasburg on Nationals' return to postseason: "It's so special" (MASN)
Unlike the teams that cruised all season long to the playoffs, these Nats had to fight back to where they were — and with a stellar level of clubhouse camaraderie, they managed the long uphill climb.

Nats, once 19-31, cap turnaround with wild card (ESPN)
"The final out of the Cubs-Pirates contest was shown live on the giant video board at Nationals Park. As soon as Chicago slugger Kyle Schwarber grounded out to Pittsburgh's Adam Frazier to end it, the Nationals -- who had calmly congregated along the first-base line -- began their celebration in earnest, bouncing up and down as "Hey Look Ma, I Made It" blared throughout the stadium. It was a moment that, exactly four months ago, seemed improbable at best."

Five reasons the Nats didn't need Bryce Harper after all (ESPN)
With Soto's equally good—if not improved—sophomore season, Anthony Rendon's MVP-caliber year, Robles' fantastic defense, and their stellar rotation, the Nats, as it turned out, did not need Bryce.

In Nationals’ clincher, Max Scherzer’s uneven outing offers more questions than answers (WaPo)
Somehow, Brad Miller got the best of Max Scherzer—twice—on Tuesday night. Davey Martinez says it's Max Scherzer's day, but Stephen Strasburg's postseason record and consistency this season make a serious case for him to get the ball.

Nats eliminate Phillies from playoff contention, move closer to clinching spot of their own (WaPo)
"The Nationals and Phillies started this season with an intense April series. Phillies fans had bussed to Washington in droves for their first matchup of the year, and they’d cheered and jeered and fought in the right field bleachers. They’d proclaimed to Nationals fans that Bryce Harper, and the National League East, were theirs for years to come. By the time the flyball settled into Eaton’s glove, the Phillies’ dugout stood frozen. The loss in the first game of a doubleheader officially eliminated Philadelphia from postseason contention."

Nats end season-long comeback with wild card clinch (MASN)
"The path was different this time, very different. There was no division title, no early September clinch, no chance to turn on the cruise control and enjoy the nice, smooth ride to the postseason."

Find Something You Can Enjoy As Much As Brian Dozier Enjoys Twerking While Soaked In Budweiser (Deadspin)
As headlines go, this one is pretty self-explanatory.

Nationals top 10 moments of 2019 (MLB.com)
Max's broken nose, the seven-run comeback in the ninth, Aaron Barrett's return, and the clinch all make the list.

Nationals clinch wild card spot, but can they finally win a series in October? (Yahoo!)
The bullpen is a mess, but the Nats likely present the biggest threat to the Dodgers in the National League.

Even In Defeat, Bryce Harper Owns The Hell Out Of Hunter Strickland (Deadspin)
Credit where it's due: Bryce Harper remains consistent.

Home-field advantage (Sweetspot Network — Nationals Baseball)
Yes, it would be nice to have — but it's not a deciding factor, nor is it a reasonable expectation given the quality of the Brewers' schedule at this point.