Jul 28, 2014, 11:59 AM EST
Trade deadline - Much of the focus this week will be on Thursday’s trade deadline, at least around the league. There are star players such as David Price and Matt Kemp who could be on the move. The Phillies could blow it all up and clubs such as the Mariners could be looking for a boost ahead of the pennant race.
The Nationals, at least at this point, are not expected to do much of anything this time around. Sure, there are things they could use: namely help on their bench, another option at second base or perhaps a lefty reliever. But the more they win, the less they may feel inclined to make a change.
For all that has gone wrong this season – at least in terms of their slow start plagued by injuries – the Nats have never really bottomed out. The depth Mike Rizzo added to both their bench and bullpen has paid dividends this season as the dropoff from starters to reserves hasn’t been nearly as stark as it was in 2013. Mark went into this in his post this morning, but the Nats have been relatively consistent all year.
Because the Nats do not appear to need anything major at the moment, it’s more likely they wait until August to see what they can get on the waiver wire. In 2012, if you remember, they scooped up Kurt Suzuki on Aug. 23 and that worked out pretty well.
Zimmerman’s timeline - Once again we find ourselves wondering what the specific timeline for a Nationals player is, as Ryan Zimmerman has begun his rehab from a right hamstring strain. He left the team’s game on July 22 and is coming up on the second week of his recovery.
Hamstring injuries can be tricky to nail down a timeline for and Zimmerman’s is apparently significant. But this week the Nats hope to know more when Zim is reevaluated after a week’s rest. How he progresses over the next week will not completely determine whether the Nats make a trade, however, it has to at least be a factor.
Zimmerman has been among the Nationals’ best players this season when healthy with a .282 average, five homers and 36 RBI in 53 games. The Nats are 34-19 in games he plays. If they find out he can’t return until September, for example, how will that change their outlook? The Nats are 1 1/2 games up in the division with only two months left. The margin for error will get smaller and smaller.
What will the Phillies look like this weekend? - The Nationals play at the Miami Marlins this weekend before returning home to host the Phillies for four games. The timing of that series could make things interesting, as the first game is on Thursday, a.k.a. the 2014 trade deadline. The Phillies have long been speculated to be sellers this month, but have yet to pull the trigger on any big moves. It would seem wise for them to at least trade some of their parts, given their franchise state, but it has yet to happen.
Ryan Howard has already been benched and this week could see more significant changes for the Phils. When they travel to Nationals Park, will Cliff Lee still be in the rotation? What about A.J. Burnett? The Phillies could also look to trade Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon or even Chase Utley.
If and when the Phillies do break up, it could represent a sort of symbolic shift in the NL and the NL East. Yes, the Phillies haven’t been very good over the last three years, but as recently as 2011 they were a powerhouse. Whenever their current era does come to an official end, it will deserve some retrospectives on one of the best teams (at least at their peak) that we have seen in the National League in quite some time.
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Ian Desmond 7/21 vs. Rockies – 5-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R
Pitching game of the week: Doug Fister 7/27 vs. Reds – 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, BB, 5 SO, 104 pitches, 76 strikes.
Quote of the week:
Ryan Zimmerman to MLB.com on whether he will return by the end of the regular season:
I think so. Like I said before, it’s really hard for me to tell. Honestly, we haven’t talked to the team doctors yet. I haven’t gone over there. I’m going to let them examine me. I just got home today and we have the weekend. It’s tough to say. I wish I had an answer for you. It’s too early to put any sort of timetable on it because we really don’t know.
Tweet (or Instagram) of the week:
Just Lucas Giolito with a monkey…
The caption was great too:
Got to live one of my dreams tonight by playing with a monkey! Great win for the suns tonight that was perfectly capped off by Cowboy Monkey Rodeo!
MON – 7:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Zimmermann)
TUE – 7:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Strasburg)
WED – 12:40 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Roark)
THU – 7:05 vs. Philadelphia Phillies (Gonzalez)
FRI – 7:05 vs. Philadelphia Phillies (Fister)
SAT – 7:05 vs. Philadelphia Phillies (Zimmermann)
SUN – 1:35 vs. Philadelphia Phillies (Strasburg)
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 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: 1:30 p.m., 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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