Jul 14, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
All-Star Game – This week is the 2014 All-Star break, giving the Nationals four days off before they begin the final 2 1/2 months of the season. Despite sitting tied for first place at the moment, the Nationals will not be well-represented in Minnesota. None of their players will be in the Home Run Derby on Monday night and only one member of the team is on the NL All-Star roster. That player is Tyler Clippard, who was added on Sunday. And as a relief pitcher, there’s no guarantee he’ll even appear in the game.
Perhaps it is a good thing that the Nationals will not have a large group of players participating in this week’s events. It could go both ways. Having your stars at the Midsummer Classic could keep them fresh for the second half as they continue to take batting practice and go about their business at the ballpark. On the other hand, though, this allows just about everyone on the Nationals to have a few days off in what is a very long season. Would you rather see your team get practically nobody in the game, or have nearly your whole team there like the Oakland Athletics? That could be an interesting debate.
Zimmermann on the mend – With the Nationals moving through the beginning of July with a completely healthy roster, it was bound to happen at some point where another player would go down. Unfortunately this time it had to be Jordan Zimermann, arguably their most consistent pitcher over the last three seasons. Zimmermann will now have to sit out the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season. It’s too bad for the 27-year-old, but obviously the most important part of all of this is him coming back healthy.
Zimmermann is expected to avoid the disabled list after an MRI showed a strain to his right bicep and no structural damage. The telling day will be Thursday when he is likely to throw a bullpen session during the team’s workout. From there it will officially be determined whether a stint on the DL is needed.
Tough schedule on other side – The Nationals will have a fairly difficult stretch awaiting them after the break beginning with three games against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have actually lost 11 of their last 13 games heading into the break, but they remain the top team in the NL Central and hold the second-best record in the NL at 53-43.
After that the Nats will go on a nine-game road trip through Colorado, Cincinnati and Miami. The Rockies have also been a disaster lately, but they have been strong all season at home. They are still the best offense in the National League and at Coors Field can turn any game into a home run derby.
Things should get interesting when the Nationals travel to play the Reds. Cincinnati won seven of nine heading into the break and is playing as well as any team in the NL. The Reds look poised to take over the NL Central some time soon.
After playing the Reds, the Nats will face a Marlins team that has been very good at home this season. Miami is 27-22 in South Florida, and though they look more like pretenders this season than true contenders, they have played the Nats pretty evenly so far this season in head-to-head matchups.
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Jayson Werth 7/13 vs. Phillies – 2-for-3, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, HBP
Pitching game of the week: Tanner Roark 7/13 vs. Phillies – 7 IP, 4 H, ER, 0 BB, 6 SO, 104 pitches, 65 strikes.
Quote of the week:
Zimmermann on his injury:
“I didn’t think it was bad, anything serious. The MRI came back and looked pretty good. A little inflammation. Give it rest for a few days and go home and come back and start throwing on Thursday again.”
Tweet of the week:
— Tyler Clippard (@TylerClippard) July 13, 2014
MON – Home Run Derby
TUE – All-Star Game
WED – OFF
THU – OFF
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Strasburg)
SAT – 7:05 p.m. vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Gonzalez)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Fister)
NL EAST 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)...
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.
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