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Mets-Nationals series preview

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Mets-Nationals series preview

By Doug McKinney
CSNwashington.com

Mets @ Nationals
46-43 3rd in NL East 51-36 1st in NL East

The Rundown
Tuesday, July 17-Thursday, July 19
Series 30
Season Series Record: Nationals lead 4-2

Pitching Probables
Tuesday, July 17 7:05 pm
Jon Niese (7-4, 3.73 ERA) @ Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.43 ERA)
denotes left handed pitcher

Wednesday, July 18 7:05 pm
Chris Young (2-3, 4.28 ERA) @ Jordan Zimmermann (6-6, 2.48 ERA)

Thursday, July 19 12:35 pm
R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.66) @ Gio Gonzalez (12-4, 2.93 ERA)
denotes left handed pitcher

Whos Hot & Whos Not
Mets
Hot: SS Ruben Tejada - .390 AVG, 4 RBI in last 10 games
Not: SP R.A. Dickey 10 ER in 12 IP in July (7.50 ERA)

Nationals
Hot: 2B Danny Espinosa .324 AVG, HR, 3 RBI in last 10 games
Not: C Jesus Flores .120 AVG in July

A Series Look
The Nationals return home after a split in Miami. Was it a series they should have won? Probably. But all things considering, seeing how bad the Nats track record is against the Marlins a split may not be the worst of things.

Next on the docket is a slumping Mets team, who is 3-7 in their last 10 games and losers of four straight. New York has fallen to third place, while the red hot Braves are now just 2.5 games back from the 1st place Nats.

Setting the tone for the series will be a pair of lefties who have nice numbers on paper, but may not have pitched as well as one would think. Detwiler, who arguably had his best start of the years against the Mets (his first start of the season), hasnt pitched more than 6.2 IP this season and has given up seven runs in his last two starts (and an astonishing 16 hits). Niese, is coming off one of his worst starts of the year, hasnt faced the Nats this year.

Tomorrow, in a nationally televised game, Jordan Zimmermann will look to continue his amazing season when he goes up against Chris Young (3-1, 2.74 ERA all-time vs. WSH). In Thursdays matinee, Nats hitters will have the daunting task of facing knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. But it wont be much easier for the Mets, as they take on Gio Gonzalez.

While the Mets are six games back from the Nats, it still is an important series for Washington and a very crucial homestand. With the Braves breathing down their necks and the Mets in striking distance, a 5-2 mark at home vs. the 2nd and 3rd place teams would be very encouraging.

Prediction: Nationals win series 2-1

News and Notes
>The trade deadline is nearing and while the Nationals havent been mentioned in many rumors, I expect the club will be in the market for an elite starting pitcher and a catcher. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports mentions Ryan Dempster, Zack Greinke and Francisco Liriano as possible SP targets as well as former Oriole catcher Ramon Hernandez. With Jayson Werth returning soon (see more below), I dont see the club looking for outfield help.

>Jayson Werth (wrist) will most likely start baseball activities tomorrow. If all goes well, the Nats brass hope he will be back in 2-3 weeks (first week of August).

>RHP Drew Storen (elbow) and Chad Tracy (groin) are inching closer to a return to the big league club. Storen should be back before the Brave series if things go all well in his next rehab appearance. Tracy is back in action after suffering a setback.

>Nats first round pick RHP Lucas Giolito will head to Viera, FL tomorrow to continue his rehab and pitch in front of Nationals officials to see what his next step will be. GM Mike Rizzo is hopeful he will pitch in a game in the near future.

>SS Ian Desmond will miss his third straight game this evening, but expect him to be in the line-up tomorrow or Thursday. The oblique injury may stick with him for the rest of the season, but he is not expected to be placed on the DL. While he has had been bothered by the oblique for sometime now, a good sign for Nats fans is that even on days where he hasnt felt his best, he has still hit and showed no problems in the field or on the base paths.
Down on the Farm

>AAASyracuse: SP John Lannan is expected to be called up Saturday to start one of the games against the Braves. Lannan is 8-5 with a 3.25 ERA all-time against Atlanta.

>AAHarrisburg: OF Destin Hood who has been bothered by a wrist injury for most of the season, went 3-for-4 with 2 2B and RBI (30) last night. Hood is considered one of the Nationals top 10 prospects.

>A (Advanced)Potomac: A new home and badly needed one at that is looking like a real possibility for the Potomac Nationals. The P-Nats unveiled plans for a 6,000-7,000 seat, state of the art stadium that would be built in time for the 2014 season. For more, view this report: http:www2.insidenova.comsports2012jul1713new-stadium-share-location-comm...

>AHagerstown: 2011 1st round pick Alex Meyer continues to dominate at Hagerstown. In his latest start, Meyer went 6 IP with 4 H and 9 K. In his last 13 IP, the Nats 2012 Futures Game representative has only given up 1 ER.

>A (Short Season)Auburn: The Doubledays are currently 18-9 on the season, good enough for 1st place in the Pinckney division of the NY-Penn League.

>RookieGCL and DSL Nationals: Ivan Pineyro has an ERA of 2.38 with a team leading 23 K this season (22.2 IP). The 20-year old is in his first year of GCL ball after pitching for the Nats Dominican Summer League team last season to a 4-6 record with an impressive 2.20 ERA.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others