Jun 1, 2015, 11:13 AM EDT
Blue Jays, Cubs come to Washington – The Nationals were swept over the weekend for the first time since April 24-26 to a Reds team that had lost 10 of their previous 11 games before the series. It is most likely just a blip on the radar, but it’s perhaps good timing the Nats will now return home for a seven-game homestand.
The Nats start with the 23-29 Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto has the best offense in baseball, but one of the worst pitching staffs. The Nationals will also begin the series with their two best pitchers in Games 1 and 2 in Jordan Zimmermann and Max Scherzer.
After Toronto, the Nats welcome the 26-22 Chicago Cubs to town. Chicago played a close series with the Nats last week, but they have lost four of their last six games. Cubs ace Jon Lester is not scheduled to start in the series.
Will Harper finally face someone younger than him? – Despite being in his fourth major league season and his sixth overall as a professional, Bryce Harper has the unusual distinction of never facing a pitcher younger than him at any pro level. He’s 22 years old and playing like an MVP, but still has never faced someone born after his October 16, 1992 birthday.
That could all change this week with the Blue Jays in town, as Toronto has the youngest player in baseball in reliever Roberto Osuna. Osuna is only 20 with a birthday of Feb. 7, 1995.
Osuna, a right-hander, has been very good for the Blue Jays this season with a 1.75 ERA in 22 appearances. Toronto manager John Gibbons may opt for lefties to match up with Harper, but there’s a good chance Harper and Osuna will face off this week and make all of us feel old.
When will Anthony Rendon return? – The return of Anthony Rendon seems to be approaching quickly, as the Nationals star played on three consecutive days in minor league rehab games over the weekend. He logged 12 total plate appearances with the Harrisburg Senators and had two hits and a walk, including one double.
Rendon playing in three straight days right off the bat was surprising given how bad his first rehab assignment went. The Nats seemed to be taking it very slowly in his recovery before this weekend.
With Rendon back and playing every day, it would seem he will be ready to make his 2015 debut very soon. We’ll see what Matt Williams says in his Monday press conference.
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Ian Desmond 5/27 vs. Cubs – 3-for-5, 2 2B
Pitching game of the week: Max Scherzer 5/27 vs. Cubs – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, BB, 13 SO. 108 pitches, 72 strikes.
Quote of the week:
Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani after hitting Harper via MLB.com:
“I threw it as hard as I could, and it ran up and in and hit him. What are you going to do? He should have jogged, but what are you going to do? Be a baseball player. Sorry I hit you, run.”
Tweet (Instagram) of the week:
Harper the day after getting hit by Cingrani and arguing with Joey Votto:
MON – 7:05 p.m. vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Zimmermann)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Scherzer)
WED – 7:05 p.m. vs. Toronto Blue Jays (TBA)
THU – 7:05 p.m. vs. Chicago Cubs (Gonzalez)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. Chicago Cubs (Roark)
SAT – 12:05 p.m. vs. Chicago Cubs (Zimmermann)
SUN – 4:05 p.m. vs. Chicago Cubs (Scherzer)
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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