May 19, 2014, 11:48 AM EDT
Injury updates – This week the Nationals lost yet another man to the disabled list as Gio Gonzalez went down with left shoulder inflammation. The lefty will now be shut down until the second half of this week where he will then begin throwing. If all goes well from there, he could set himself up to return on June 2.
As you can see, all that includes a few ‘if’s.’ Shoulder injuries for pitchers are nothing to mess with, and we’ve seen several Nationals injuries become worse than their original reports. Gonzalez’ otherwise clean injury history, however, should bode well. That, and the fact he had a negative MRI is also good news. There’s no question, though, that the next diagnosis for Gonzalez will be a big one considering he is a huge part of their rotation.
This week we should also find out a lot more about Adam LaRoche’s quad injury, and maybe even Ryan Zimmerman’s thumb. LaRoche was placed on the disabled list May 10 and is eligible to return this Sunday in Pittsburgh (May 25). If all goes well this week, the Nats should get back who was their best player for the first quarter of this season. Zimmerman, on the other hand, does not have a definitive timetable, but that could be revealed soon.
Who will start on Thursday? – After the Nationals play three against the Reds to begin this week, they will head to Pittsburgh to play the struggling Pirates. The first of that four-game series would normally be Gonzalez turn, but he won’t be available, so who will get the start?
The Nationals could go in a lot of different directions with this one. Right-hander Blake Treinen would seem the most likely choice as he pitched Friday with Syracuse and is set to throw this Thursday. Prospect A.J. Cole started on Saturday for Harrisburg and has been lights out this year with a 2.25 ERA in eight Double-A starts. And Taylor Jordan would be the other possibility, he has a 0.82 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse this season.
Neck and neck in the NL East – As of today the Nationals are a half-game out of first place against the Atlanta Braves after 43 games. The 43-game mark isn’t exactly significant, but it is about where the Nationals’ 2013 season went off the rails.
Last year on May 17 was the last day of 2013 the Nats were as close as 0.5 games behind the Braves. They were 23-19 at the time (they are 23-20 now) and proceeded to lose four straight games as Atlanta never looked back. At the time, however, they were out west and in the middle of a very tough road trip. It was this time last year that Bryce Harper ran into the wall in Los Angeles, and Yunesky Maya blew that game out in San Francisco.
The upcoming stretch for the Nationals this time around could be favorable. Until June 10 when they play the Giants in San Fran, the Nationals only play one series against a team with a winning record. That team is the Marlins, whom they face May 26-28 at Nationals Park. The Nats are also 5-1 against Miami this season.
The stretch begins with the Reds who the Nationals are 9-5 against over the last two years. Cincinnati will, however, have Johnny Cueto available on Tuesday. Cueto (4-2, 1.25) has been baseball’s best pitcher so far this season.
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Wilson Ramos 5/18 vs. Mets – 2 for 3, 2B, R, BB, 4 RBI
Pitching game of the week: Doug Fister 5/14 vs. Diamondbacks – 7 IP, ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 SO, HR, 100 pitches, 64 strikes
Quote of the week:
Jayson Werth on saving the Nationals (and Rafael Soriano) with a home run-robbing catch Friday night against the Mets:
I probably should’ve untucked my shirt.
Tweet of the week:
Denard Span on not attending the Wizards’ final home game vs. the Pacers. Oops:
I’ll be there to support them against the heat
— Denard Span (@thisisdspan) May 16, 2014
MON – 7:05 p.m. vs. Cincinnati Reds (Strasburg)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. Cincinnati Reds (Fister)
WED – 4:05 p.m. vs. Cincinnati Reds (Roark)
THU – 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (TBD)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Zimmermann)
SAT – 7:15 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Strasburg)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Fister)
NL EAST STANDINGS
NL WILD CARD STANDINGS
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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)...
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