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Nationals shut Strasburg down

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Nationals shut Strasburg down

Stephen Strasburg will be shut down immediately by the Nationals and will not make what was expected to be his final start of the season on Sept. 12 at New York. Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced the news during his pregame news conference on Saturday, saying the team made the decision after his poor start against Miami on Friday night.

Here is Mark Zuckerman's Tweet after hearing the news:

Davey says Strasburg's season is over. Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) September 8, 2012

Strasburg will end 2012 having pitched 159.1 total innings. He is being shut down with an innings limit due to his continued recovery from Tommy John surgery, a procedure he underwent in 2010.

More to come as this story develops...

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Nats' Joe Ross making quick progress, may start rehab assignment soon

Nats' Joe Ross making quick progress, may start rehab assignment soon

On Monday in Baltimore, the Nationals had what seemed at the time like bleak news to share about Joe Ross, that time was running out for him to do a minor league rehab assignment, that he may have to instead return out of their bullpen to build his innings up. He hadn't thrown a bullpen session yet and the minor league regular season schedule was running out.

Then, on Tuesday, he threw a bullpen session, finally for the first time since he was pulled from his original minor league rehab stint on Aug. 5. Then, on Thursday he threw another, this time under the watchful eye of manager Dusty Baker, who now believes Ross may, in fact, be ready to go join one of their affiliates very soon.

How about that for a turn of events? Ross and the Nats have done nearly a complete 180, but it has him now heading in the right direction and the team will certainly take it.

"He threw quite a while. I could just tell by the expression on his face that he was feeling pretty good," Baker said. "He's been working tirelessly. Boy, we've missed him when he's been out."

When and where Ross pitches next will be determined by how he feels on Friday, how his right shoulder responds to the second bullpen session. He has been out since July 3 with shoulder inflammation.

He pitched twice in the minors - once for Hagerstown and once for Syracuse - but couldn't shake the discomfort in his shoulder. His velocity remained lower than it should be and Ross could tell something was wrong.

Ross said he felt great after Tuesday's bullpen and feels that this time is different. Baker himself is encouraged by the young right-hander's progress.

"It's coming out pretty easy. I asked him how he felt afterwards and he said he felt good, the ball was coming out pretty good," he said.

Baker is ready to get Ross back as soon as possible, knowing how much his rotation has been hurt by his absence.

"When he was in, we had one of the best rotations in baseball one through five. Then, in Joe's absence, we've tried a number of guys there with some success and some not so successful. It's put some pressure on the bullpen and it'd be nice to get Joe back," he said.

[RELATED: Olympian Katie Ledecky visits Nats Park, players enthralled with medals]

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Baker thrilled to have Rzepczynksi, who takes Lopez' spot on Nats' roster

Baker thrilled to have Rzepczynksi, who takes Lopez' spot on Nats' roster

New Nats reliever Marc Rzepczynksi arrived at Dulles Airport on Thursday afternoon, and beat the traffic to Nationals Park just in time for the series finale against the Baltimore Orioles. The Nationals cleared a spot on their roster to activate him by optioning pitcher Reynaldo Lopez to Triple-A Syracuse. More on Lopez in a bit.

In Rzepczynksi, the Nats get an immediate boost to their bullpen, a lefty reliever with eight years of MLB experience. With Sammy Solis on the disabled list and Oliver Perez nursing a stiff back, Rzepczynksi zooms up the depth chart as a quick fix for their lefty woes.

"I think it was a necessary move because we only had one left-hander. Especially, with Solis down, we were hoping we could get some reinforcements on the left side. His stats and his track record looks very good and I think he can help us," manager Dusty Baker said.

One thing Baker is especially excited about is Rzepczynksi's ability to induce groundballs. Among MLB relievers with at least 30 innings pitched, he's second to only Orioles closer Zach Britton in groundball percentage. 

"It's always a plus when you can induce groundballs because you get a chance to turn double plays, you get a chance to get out of trouble," Baker explained. "Now I've got one that's one of the best at inducing groundballs in [Blake] Treinen and now I've got one on the left side. You can always use those guys. It's a welcome sight and a welcome addition. Once we get Solis back, then we'll have three of them."

For Lopez, he heads back to the minors after getting shelled for six runs - four earned - in just 2 2/3 innings against the Orioles on Monday. He was set to pitch again on Sunday against the Rockies, but has now left an opening in the starting rotation. That would appear to be a good sign for Lucas Giolito, who is also lined up to pitch this weekend at Syracuse.

[RELATED: Trea Turner ties franchise mark with hits in consecutive plate appearances]

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Max Scherzer starts as Nats hope to avoid sweep vs. Orioles

Max Scherzer starts as Nats hope to avoid sweep vs. Orioles

Nats (73-53) at Orioles (70-56) at Nationals Park

The Nationals' series against the Orioles has been quite lopsided so far through three games, with Baltimore taking each of them in relatively convincing fashion. The Nats mounted a comeback in the ninth inning on Wednesday night, but fell just short. Now they will aim to avoid a four-game sweep on Thursday night.

Max Scherzer (13-7, 3.05) will get the ball for Washington in his 27th start of the season. He's looking to bounce back from a four-run outing against the Braves his last time out. Scherzer last faced the Orioles on July 12 of 2015 when he tossed 8 2/3 innings of two-run ball at Camden Yards.

Pitching for Baltimore will be right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.94). He has had a horrendous season, but he's got a very good history against the Nats with a 2.32 ERA through eight starts. Last season he threw six innings with zero earned runs allowed on Sept. 22 of last year.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Orioles - Ubaldo Jimenez

NATS

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Max Scherzer

ORIOLES

TBA
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

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