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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals and New York Mets have big weekend plans; Stephen Strasburg updates + more...

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while you wait for the series with the Mets to get going...

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

What was Davey Martinez’s plan for the Nationals’ off day on Thursday? “Relaxing. Chilling,” he said. “We got some big games coming up especially come Friday. So these guys, they’ve been working really hard. You guys don’t get to see what they do, but even today we didn’t hit on the field, but they hit a lot in the cage. And they’ve been working it, so I want them to go home tomorrow, spend time with their families, relax, do whatever they’re going to do and just come back ready to play Friday.”

It’s Friday now. Who’s ready for four with the Mets?

Go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Mike Rizzo gives injury updates on Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer - (NBC Sports Washington)
"On Wednesday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo joined the Sports Junkies and provided updates on both aces as to when they might return to the Nationals' rotation."

Stephen Strasburg’s 2018 injury informs timeline for return - (106.7 the FAN)
“‘It’s the same thing he had in 2018 where he had the nerve from his neck — that goes down to his shoulder and arm — was irritated,” Rizzo told The Sports Junkies on Wednesday. ‘He has seen Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache out in L.A. to get a diagnosis. We’ve got that. We’re sending him to a specialist in Dallas.’”

Former Nationals prospect Wil Crowe is throwing much harder with the Pirates - (WaPost)
"Wil Crowe was traded to Pittsburgh in the deal that sent Josh Bell to the Nationals this winter."

Hand returns to form, converting eight straight saves - (MASN)
"There is, of course, a little more to it than that. Hand has rediscovered his elite form by throwing more strikes, especially early in at-bats, avoiding hitter’s counts that can put pressure on a pitcher to be perfect."

Nationals’ call-up of Luis García is latest sign he’s surpassed Carter Kieboom - (NBC Sports Washington)
"It’s unclear how long the Nationals will be without Castro, but his absence creates an opportunity for García. That opportunity would’ve gone to fellow infielder Carter Kieboom a few months ago..."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

Gerrit Cole says baseball is hard to grip, pleads MLB to work with them to find solution - (NBC Sports Washington)
"New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is the latest star pitcher to share his disappointment in Major League Baseball's decision to outright ban all foreign substance usage midseason."

Exploring how the 2019 Nationals made their comeback, and if the 2021 Yankees can do the same - (Pinstripe Alley)
"In the two years since the 2019 Washington Nationals overcame the odds to win the World Series after a truly disastrous April and May, they have served as a reminder that the length of the baseball season can see a team’s fortunes radically shift..."

For the Kansas City Royals, what are the most important issues for the rest of the season? – (The Athletic)
"In May 2019, the year the Washington Nationals won the World Series, they were 10 games under .500, nine games back of the National League East and 6 1/2 games back in the NL wild-card race."

Top leadoff hitter prospects - (MLB.com)
"Nationals: Viandel Pena, 2B/SS (No. 28) - Washington is more known for its pitching prospects these days, so we need to dip lower to find a leadoff candidate."

Biggest trade needs for contenders - (MLB.com)
"That leaves us with 19 teams, with the Cardinals being the ‘contender’ with the lowest odds (12%) and the Nationals being the highest-ranked ‘non-contender,’ at a mere 3%."

NL EAST UPDATES:

José Alvarado shows signs of control, improvement - (MLB.com)
"Joe Girardi said last week that he will live with the bad because José Alvarado’s good is really, really good."

Jacob deGrom shoulder injury update - (MLB.com)
"An MRI administered earlier in the day had revealed the image, in manager Luis Rojas’ words, of 'a normal shoulder from a pitcher.'"

Max Meyer, Marlins' 2020 Draft picks motivate - (MLB.com)
"Marlins prospect Max Meyer doesn't need added motivation, but he seizes it by keeping track of how his fellow 2020 MLB Draftees are doing in their first professional season."

Mike Soroka discusses his latest surgery, rehab process - (AJC.com)
"Sidelined Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka spoke with reporters Thursday for the first time since he underwent exploratory Achilles surgery May 17."