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NL East: Mets dealt another blow with Neil Walker's back injury

NL East: Mets dealt another blow with Neil Walker's back injury

NEW YORK (AP) -- Second baseman Neil Walker was out of the New York Mets' lineup for a fourth straight day and the team revealed he has a herniated disk in his back.

Both Walker and the Mets had previously classified the injury as a stiff back. Manager Terry Collins indicated he wasn't at liberty to reveal the exact diagnosis during Tuesday's pre-game news conference, but general manager Sandy Alderson shared the condition to a few reporters early Wednesday afternoon.

Collins was pressed for additional details before the Mets took on the Miami Marlins.

"The issue is, the herniated disk is causing weakness in one of his legs," Collins said. "The weakness is causing numbness in one of his feet. The numbness is keeping him from playing."

The Mets were waiting for a second opinion on Walker's condition to determine if surgery is necessary immediately or if he could try to play through the injury over the final 4 1/2 weeks of the regular season.

Walker has matched his career high with 23 home runs in his first season with the Mets.

Walker's 2012 season with Pittsburgh ended prematurely with a similar injury. He went through six weeks of physical therapy to rehabilitate a disk in his lower back.

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Gio Gonzalez faces Phillies as Nats look for sweep on road

Gio Gonzalez faces Phillies as Nats look for sweep on road

Nats (77-55) at Phillies (60-72) at Citizens Bank Park

The Nationals saw Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer dominate in the first two games of this week's series in Philly. On Wednesday, they will send Gio Gonzalez (9-9, 4.25) to the mound looking for a sweep.

The Nats have swept the Phillies each of the last two times they've squared off and have won eight straight overall in head-to-head matchups. Gonzalez has seen the Phillies twice this year with just two earned runs allowed in 13 1/3 total innings of work.

Pitching for Philly will be lefty Adam Morgan (1-8, 6.50). Morgan has also seen the Nats twice with nine earned runs given up in 12 2/3 innings combined.

Trea Turner has the day off for the Nationals with Michael Taylor starting in center and batting leadoff. Turner is actually just two hits away from tying a franchise record for most hits in a month. Given this is the last day of August, he should fall just short.

Besides the Taylor change, the rest of the Nats' lineup looks just as it did in Tuesday's win.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Gio Gonzalez vs. Phillies - Adam Morgan

NATS

CF Michael Taylor
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
LHP Gio Gonzalez

PHILLIES

TBA
LHP Adam Morgan

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Stock Watch: Scherzer's dominant week strengthens his NL Cy Young case

Stock Watch: Scherzer's dominant week strengthens his NL Cy Young case

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see which player's stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 4-3

Team slash: .276/.321/.444

Team ERA: 4.02

Runs per game: 4.9

 

STOCK UP 

Max Scherzer, SP: 2-0, 16 IP, 1.13 ERA, 21 K, BB

Remember when Scherzer was yielding home runs at an alarming rate? It hasn’t been that long since then, but with the way he’s pitching these days, it sure seems like it. Since June, the 32-year-old right hander has recaptured his dominant form, so much so that he’s put himself in the NL Cy Young conversation. And he has a pretty darn good case, too; Scherzer leads the NL in innings pitched (190), strikeouts (238) and WHIP (0.91) while ranking second in wins (15) and eighth in ERA(2.89).

In his performances against the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies over the last week, he’s looked very much like vintage Mad Max: flirting with no-hitters, pumping the fastball in the upper-90s, posting double digit strikeouts and going deep into each game. That’s the guy the Nats gave a $210 million contract to, and it’s a reminder why he’ll be taking the mound in Game 1 of an October series.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: .345 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .987 OPS

Speaking of postseason accolades, what’s Murphy got to do to be considered the NL MVP favorite? In the minds of national pundits, he appears to be trailing Chicago Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant, despite owning an edge in average, RBI and OPS. While Bryant's numbers are impressive, voters may already view him as the best player on baseball’s best team, so it may be difficult to sway them into digging deeper into Murphy's numbers.

It also doesn’t help Murphy that his defense hasn’t been considered above average at his position, while Bryant’s glove is lauded at multiple spots. Add in the mystique of the Cubs, a big market team, and it will be tough for Murphy to outshine Bryant without a monster September. But given what he’s done in his first year in D.C., it’s certainly possible.  

Trea Turner, CF: .455 AVG, 4 SB, 1.000 OPS

The major leagues aren’t supposed to be this easy for rookies. But game after game, the 23-year-old Turner is making “The Show” look like a cakewalk in his first opportunity as an everyday player. As a result, the 23-year-old speedster has quickly turned himself into one of the most dangerous leadoff men in baseball right now.  

Of NL hitters who have at least 175 plate appearances atop the lineup, Turner is leads in average (.343) while ranking third in slugging (.531) and OPS (.889). Additionally, he’s two hits shy of tying Murphy’s club record for hits in a month, not to mention a current 20-game on-base streak, a stretch that includes multi-hit efforts in seven of his last eight games. Not too shabby.

STOCK DOWN

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B: .042 AVG, 8K, .122 OPS

After posting a few good games following his return from the disabled list, Zimmerman has once again found himself in a bit of a rut. He has one hit in his last 24 at-bats with eight strikeouts to just one walk. While it's tempting to say it's been only one bad week, it’s hard to ignore that Zimmerman's struggles have been season long. His average has dropped to .216, which by far would be a career-low if he finished 2016 anywhere near that mark. He’s traditionally been a streaky hitter, but he’s running out of time to make a big impact.