Jun 22, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
Strasburg likely to return this week – The Nationals won’t say it, but all signs point to Stephen Strasburg making his return from the disabled list this week against the Atlanta Braves, likely on Tuesday. Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper both mentioned Strasburg’s return after Sunday’s game, but the Nats said they do not plan to confirm anything until today or on Tuesday morning.
Strasburg has worked up to 80 pitches in a bullpen session after throwing 71 in a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg last Wednesday. Before Strasburg’s most recent bullpen, Matt Williams said this about his next step, if he came out healthy:
“There’s no reason he couldn’t go to 95 and get in a big league game and do that.”
Strasburg has not appeared in a big league game since May 29 when he left in the second inning with a strained left trapezius muscle. He has been out over three weeks, but is almost certain to be back on Tuesday, and if not Tuesday then some day this week.
Are the Nats about to go on another tear? – The Nationals have been a streaky team this year, that much has certainly been established. They began the season 7-13 before going 21-6 in their next 27 games. Then they went 3-10 in their next 13 and the sky was falling down.
Well, look at their last nine games. The Nationals have won six of their last nine with just about every aspect of their roster rounding into form. The Nats this year have either been great or terrible. When they lose, they can’t hit or pitch and their defense makes mistakes you normally do not see in the majors. But when they start rolling, few teams can match their firepower both at the plate and on the mound.
The Nationals’ pitching staff dominated the Pirates over the weekend and their offense have averaged 6.3 runs per game over their last 10. Has the tide turned? Are they about to reel off another magical run like they had in May?
Braves coming to town – The Nationals have not seen the Atlanta Braves since May 10 – a span of six weeks – but on Tuesday they come to Washington for a three-game series. The Braves have been hovering at or around the .500 mark as one of the more pedestrian teams in baseball this season, but they are coming off a three-game sweep of the New York Mets. It was a sweep that helped out the Nationals, who are now in first place with a three-game winning streak of their own.
The Braves are 10-10 in the month of June, as they’ve continue to stay on a .500 course. But their offense has been noticeably improved this month. They rank second in the NL this month with 92 runs through 20 games. Freddie Freeman – who already kills the Nats – has been on fire in June with .328 average, five homers and 15 RBI in 16 games. He has, though, missed four straight games with a sore wrist and may or may not play in the upcoming series. Jace Peterson (.319 BA, 10 RBI) and Cameron Maybin (.347 BA, 13 RBI) have also been playing very well for Atlanta.
After taking care of Pittsburgh, the Nationals’ pitching staff could get another worthy test this week in the Braves. The Nats allowed on three runs in three games to the Pirates, while the Braves have scored five or more runs in 14 of their 20 games in June.
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Wilson Ramos 6/16 vs. Rays – 2-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, SF
Pitching game of the week: Max Scherzer 6/20 vs. Pirates – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, HBP, 10 SO. 106 pitches, 82 strikes.
Quote of the week:
Scherzer on throwing a no-hitter the day before Father’s Day with his dad in town to watch:
“That’s what my dad wanted. He doesn’t want a tie. I gave him a no-hitter, so he was pretty happy.”
Tweet of the week:
— Max Scherzer (@Max_Scherzer) June 21, 2015
MON – OFF
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (TBA)
WED – 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Zimmermann)
THU – 4:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Fister)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Scherzer)
SAT – 3:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Gonzalez)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (TBA)
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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