Nats' relievers rested, ready for Rox series

Nats' relievers rested, ready for Rox series

DENVER -- To hear manager Dusty Baker tell it, the Nats' 11 consecutive quality starts are all part of a plan to prepare for pitching at Coors Field.

Max Scherzer took the baton on Sunday night and pitched eight innings of three-run ball in a 6-3 win in New York, giving Baker a bullpen perfectly primed to handle the challenges that come up in one of baseball's more offense-oriented parks.

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Nationals on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper steamrolls to NL Player of the Week

Nats superstar hit .550 with three homers to win for fifth time in career

Harper steamrolls to NL Player of the Week

Bryce Harper continues to establish himself not only as one of baseball's best players, but as one of the sport's quickest starters. Harper is having his second straight excellent April, and now he's earned a Player of the Week award in the season's first month for the second straight year.

Harper was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday after he hit .550 (11-for-20) with three home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored. Even more than teammates Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman, who are also off to sizzling starts, Harper's bat has sent the Nationals soaring to an MLB-best 13 wins.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg goes on paternity leave

Nationals pitcher, wife are expecting second child

Strasburg goes on paternity leave

NEW YORK -- The Nationals placed right-hander Stephen Strasburg on paternity leave Monday as he and his wife, Rachel, are expecting their second child. Jacob Turner was called up from Triple-A Syracuse to start on Monday night against the Rockies. 

Strasburg left the team in New York on Sunday and can remain on paternity leave for up to three days. However, he will not pitch during their four-game series in Colorado this week.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A grand opening for Nationals' Murphy

A grand opening for Nationals' Murphy

NEW YORK -- During his first season with the Nationals in 2016, Daniel Murphy routinely punished his former team during each of their 19 matchups. That theme continued Sunday night at Citi Field, when Murphy hammered a grand slam in the first inning off Zach Wheeler to help the Nationals to a 6-3 victory.

After Murphy, who spent the first seven seasons of his career in New York, collected a hit in all 19 games against the Mets in 2016, he collected a pair Saturday night and then Sunday's homer. He is now batting 34-for-88 (.386) against his former team with eight home runs and 25 RBIs.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Murphy slam leads Nats to 7th straight win

Murphy slam leads Nats to 7th straight win

NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy provided the early offense, and Max Scherzer made it hold up, tossing eight strong innings to lead the Nationals to a 6-3 victory Sunday night at Citi Field to complete a three-game sweep over the Mets.

Murphy launched a grand slam in the first inning off Zack Wheeler and Ryan Zimmerman added some insurance with a two-run homer in the eighth, which was more than enough for Scherzer.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Danny Knobler is a contributor for MLB.com based in New York.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Statcast of the Day: Scherzer's spin zone

Ace unleashes rising action with nearly 2,600 average rpm

Statcast of the Day: Scherzer's spin zone

The term "rising fastball" has been used in baseball for decades, even after science has given us the understanding that fastballs can't really rise as they come to the plate.

Just don't tell that to hitters after they face Max Scherzer. The Nationals' ace throws a fastball with the kind of spin that can overwhelm opposing lineups, and that dominance was on display Sunday night during Washington's 6-3 win over the Mets.

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Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats' rotation continues sterling start

Washington starters have submitted 10 consecutive quality outings

Nats' rotation continues sterling start

NEW YORK -- The starting rotation is once again emerging as a strength for the Nationals, and has been one of the keys to their fast start. They have received contributions from all five starters that have helped carry the team to a 12-5 record, including six consecutive victories.

The latest outing came from left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who spun 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 3-1 victory against the Mets. Nationals starters began the day with the best FIP in the Majors at 2.83 and the most Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs, at 2.3. After Gonzalez's outing Saturday, they have now turned in 10 consecutive quality starts.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gio flirts with no-no in Nats' 6th straight win

Gio flirts with no-no in Nats' 6th straight win

NEW YORK -- One of the biggest reasons for the Nationals' success to start the season has been the strength of their starting rotation. And not only the top of their rotation -- each time left-hander Gio Gonzalez has taken the mound early on this year, he has turned in a stellar outing.

That continued Saturday evening at Citi Field, when Gonzalez carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and lasted into the seventh to lead the Nats to a 3-1 victory over the Mets. He held New York to one run in 6 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and three walks while only allowing two hits, the first of which did not come until Juan Lagares singled in the sixth inning.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Roger Rubin is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York and covered the Mets on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baker drops Turner to No. 2 in order, for now

While shortstop recovers from hamstring injury, he'll hit behind Eaton

Baker drops Turner to No. 2 in order, for now

NEW YORK -- As Nationals manager Dusty Baker has tinkered with his lineup since the start of Spring Training, he has kept one constant: Trea Turner as his leadoff hitter.

That remains true, even though Turner batted second Saturday against the Mets in his first start since a right hamstring strain landed him on the 10-day disabled list. Turner was activated from the DL Friday, but Baker still wants to monitor Turner's legs. So he slotted Turner into the No. 2 spot in the lineup and hit Adam Eaton leadoff, a change that Baker said was temporary. Turner responded by going 2-for-5 with an RBI double in the Nats' 3-1 win.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Rejuvenated Zimmerman locked in for Nats

First baseman off to his best start since 2014

Rejuvenated Zimmerman locked in for Nats

NEW YORK -- Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is off to his best start since 2014, when he hit .363 during the first month of the season.

Entering Saturday's action against the Mets, Zimmerman is second on the team in batting average (.382), home runs (5), RBIs (13) and on-base percentage (.424).

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Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Turner's bases-loaded walk gives Nats win

Turner's bases-loaded walk gives Nats win

NEW YORK -- The Nationals and the Mets have exchanged the National League East title during the past three seasons, and the two teams are the favorites in the division again in 2017. That increases the importance of their 19 matchups this season, the first of which required extra innings to decide Friday at Citi Field.

In his first plate appearance in 10 games, Trea Turner drew a pinch-hit, four-pitch walk with the bases loaded in the 11th that allowed Bryce Harper to score the go-ahead run in a 4-3 Nationals victory.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper, defying matchup, homers off Harvey

Slugger was 1-for-26 lifetime against Mets RHP before Friday's two-run homer

Harper, defying matchup, homers off Harvey

NEW YORK -- When considering why Mets right-hander Matt Harvey had enjoyed so much success against Bryce Harper in their careers, Nationals manager Dusty Baker hoped the law of averages would eventually even out.

Harper entered Friday's game 1-for-26 with seven strikeouts in his career against Harvey, but Harper is hitting everyone during this torrid run to start the season. He smashed a two-run homer in the first inning against Harvey, and then doubled and scored the game-winning run in the 11th inning in the Nats' 4-3 victory against Mets.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals activate Turner from disabled list

Nationals activate Turner from disabled list

NEW YORK -- Trea Turner rejoined the Nationals in New York and was activated from the disabled list prior to Friday night's series opener against the Mets.

Even though Turner was active, he was not in the starting lineup, as manager Dusty Baker wanted to ease him back into action. He pinch-hit with the bases loaded in the 11th and drew a walk, driving in the winning run in the Nationals' 4-3 win. Turner is expected to start Saturday.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

Moore: Is Harper the 'Face of Baseball'?

Moore: Is Harper the 'Face of Baseball'?

If nothing else, Bryce Harper is at least the eyes, the nose and the lips when it comes to The Face of Baseball. For verification, just listen to the reaction after the slugger with the game's most striking collection of hair strolls to the plate on the road for the Nationals.

Booooooo. Actually, during the Nats' three-game sweep of the Braves this week in Atlanta, it was more like BOOOOOOO, and that was before Harper even threatened to leave the on-deck circle.

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Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stras, Zim send Nationals to sweep of Braves

Stras, Zim send Nationals to sweep of Braves

ATLANTA -- Ryan Zimmerman foiled R.A. Dickey's bid for a gem and Stephen Strasburg kept Freddie Freeman's bat quiet as the Nationals completed a three-game sweep with Thursday night's 3-2 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park.

"All games in our division are important," Zimmerman said. "They're a good, young team that's going to continue to get better. This year, there's really no easy games in our division. So any time you can go on the road and take three, it's a plus."

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats' reworked bullpen locks down win, sweep

Nats' reworked bullpen locks down win, sweep

ATLANTA -- In the first save situation since the Nationals reshuffled the team's bullpen roles, Washington received an encouraging outing from its bullpen to secure a 3-2 victory over the Braves on Thursday night. Oliver Perez, Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley combined to get the last six outs of the game and preserve a strong start from Stephen Strasburg.

A day prior, the Nats demoted struggling right-hander Blake Treinen from closer into a lower-leverage situation and decided that Kelley and Glover would share the closer's duties. On the same day, left-hander Sammy Solis went on the disabled list, meaning Perez was likely to take on an increased workload.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fedde finally allows run, ERA at 0.50

Fedde finally allows run, ERA at 0.50

Make it three straight scoreless starts for Class A Advanced Buies Creek's Franklin Perez.

The Astros' No. 6 prospect extended his season-opening scoreless innings streak to 14 1/3 on Thursday, tossing five dominant frames against a loaded Carolina offense. He gave up two hits, struck out seven and induced six ground-ball outs as Buies Creek routed the Mudcats, 14-1.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper, Zimmerman slam Braves in rout

Harper, Zimmerman slam Braves in rout

ATLANTA -- The Nationals clubbed two grand slams in the same game for the first time since 2009 thanks to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman as part of an offensive outburst in a 14-4 victory over the Braves on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.

Washington collected a season-high 20 hits and continued its dominance over Atlanta, improving to 31-9 against its National League East rival since the start of the 2015 season.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryce as nice: Harper's 2nd HR of night a slam

Bryce as nice: Harper's 2nd HR of night a slam

ATLANTA -- Bryce Harper insists he has no explanation as to why he has had so much success against Braves ace Julio Teheran. And yet, he bested him again in the Nationals' 14-4 victory on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.

Harper hammered a pair of home runs -- on the first pitch he saw from Teheran in the first inning for a solo homer and in the second for a grand slam. Harper is now 15-for-33 in his career against Teheran with three doubles and seven home runs, the most he has hit against any pitcher.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kelley, Glover to split closing duties

Kelley, Glover to split closing duties

ATLANTA -- The Nationals made a change at closer Wednesday, 13 games into the regular season and following an offseason in which the club's bullpen, and more specifically the closer, was the biggest question mark.

Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover will share duties as the team's closer, manager Dusty Baker said prior to Wednesday's game in Atlanta, while Blake Treinen slides back into a lower-leverage role in the earlier innings. The decision comes a day after Treinen was removed from a save situation in the ninth inning after he had loaded the bases and walked in a run before Kelley came in to seal the eventual 3-1 victory.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Harper's hot start reminiscent of MVP year

Slugger has exit velocity of 92.7 mph, up from 89.5 mph

Harper's hot start reminiscent of MVP year

After a frustratingly difficult 2016 season, Bryce Harper hit .354/.475/.688 with four homers in his first 13 games -- then went 4-for-4 with two homers, including a grand slam, in a rout of the Braves. So is he back?

To be honest, the only correct answer to that question is "it's only April 19, Chase Headley is hitting .409, and the Blue Jays are on pace to go 25-137." Which is to say that it's still extremely, hilariously early in the season. You'll remember that Harper had a monster April to begin last year, too, only to fall way back to the pack for the next five months. Nothing he's done so far guarantees that his 2017 season is going to end up looking like his historically good National League MVP Award-winning season in '15.

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Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals place Solis on DL, promote Ross

Nationals place Solis on DL, promote Ross

ATLANTA -- The Nationals placed reliever Sammy Solis on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation. The move clears a spot on the roster for right-hander Joe Ross, their starting pitcher on Wednesday night against the Braves.

Solis threw a scoreless inning in Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Braves, in what was his sixth outing of the season but first in six days. His fastball velocity has averaged 93.7 mph in 2017, per Statcast™, which is his typical speed, but Solis has struggled to an 8.31 ERA in 4 1/3 frames.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Werth day to day with groin spasm

Werth day to day with groin spasm

ATLANTA -- Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth exited in the third inning of Wednesday's 14-4 victory over the Braves at SunTrust Park after sustaining a groin spasm on a check swing.

After holding back on an offering from right-hander Julio Teheran, Werth grimaced and called trainer Paul Lessard from the dugout before he left the game for what Werth called precautionary reasons. Chris Heisey continued the at-bat and remained in left field.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals hold off Braves behind Scherzer

Nationals hold off Braves behind Scherzer

ATLANTA -- It was a new setting but a familiar result for Max Scherzer and the Nationals, who used a two-run fifth inning to mar Mike Foltynewicz's strong start and claim a 3-1 win over the streaking Braves on Tuesday night at SunTrust Park.

Scherzer extended his early-season success as he recorded seven strikeouts and allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings. His effort helped the Nationals improve to 16-4 since the start of 2016 against the Braves, who had won five straight games, including each of the previous four played within their new ballpark.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryce's broken-bat double flexes hustle

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Bryce's broken-bat double flexes hustle

When Bryce Harper comes to the plate, you just expect you'll see a blast. Sure, he might not hit a home run, but a deep flyout? A foul ball with the distance for a dinger? A face-melting liner? Yeah, those are par for the course. 

During the Nationals' 3-1 victory against the Braves on Tuesday night, the right fielder hit a double, but it was a little different than usual. 

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Vintage Scherzer displays grit in win

Vintage Scherzer displays grit in win

ATLANTA -- Max Scherzer is fond of saying, "the last 15 pitches of an outing usually dictate how the outing goes."

Scherzer's final 15 pitches in Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Braves at SunTrust Park were especially gutsy. Scherzer convinced manager Dusty Baker to let him pitch the seventh, even though he had already thrown 101 pitches, then went out and completed a perfect inning on 15 pitches.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Back-to-back 5-hit games for Stevenson

2015 second-rounder collecting hits at historic pace, has eight straight

Back-to-back 5-hit games for Stevenson

Andrew Stevenson began his week by collecting a career-high five hits in a Double-A Harrisburg's 13-inning win over Hartford on Monday. The Nationals' No. 5 prospect needed just nine innings to match that total on Tuesday night, going a perfect 5-for-5 out of the leadoff spot for the Senators.

Stevenson has now notched a hit in eight straight at-bats, and reached base in nine straight plate appearances, dating back to the eighth inning of Monday's contest, which he finished 5-for-7 with a double, four runs scored and three RBIs.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Is there a reason for Nats' 'pen woes?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers Nationals fans' questions

Inbox: Is there a reason for Nats' 'pen woes?

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' season is 12 games old, and the team begins a difficult three-city, 10-game road trip on Tuesday. This seems like a good time to answer a few of the biggest questions on the minds of Nationals fans, many of whom are worried about the bullpen.

The Nats began Monday with a 'pen ERA of 6.25, which ranked 25th in the Majors. As a unit, they have completed scoreless outings in just two of their 12 games. They've been prone to give up the long ball, already allowing 10 homers this year (2.50 per nine innings), second-worst in the Majors.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.