Yes, this weekend's series against the Orioles is significant for the Nationals. But it also represents the start of a very significant stretch of games that could go a long toward determining whether this franchise is going to keep itself at or near the top of the NL East all summer.
Beginning tonight, the Nats will play 33 consecutive games against teams that currently own winning records: the Orioles (twice), Phillies, Braves (twice), Marlins, Mets, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays. Wow, good luck with that.
First things first, of course. Tonight, it'll be Edwin Jackson on the mound against Baltimore's Jake Arrieta. Plenty of updates and analysis to come throughout the game, so please check the Nats Insider live game thread often...
BALTIMORE ORIOLES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WTEM (980 AM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Mostly clear, 72 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from RF
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Bryce Harper
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
LF Xavier Avery
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
2B Robert Andino
RHP Jake Arrieta
The Nationals missed out on a major trade target when news broke this afternoon that the White Sox had traded ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox.
The report comes from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Washington had been the frontrunner to land Sale as recently as this morning. And as recently as 30 minutes ago, the Nationals vs. Red Sox contest seemed like it could go either way.
But apparently the Nats couldn't match Boston's offer of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech plus two minor leaguers, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Now, the dream rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Sale won't happen.
The trade for Sale was so close, it could impact other potential deals for the Nationals. The team reportedly explored trading Gio Gonzalez to the Yankees if Sale indeed ended up in Washington.
MORE NATIONALS: Report: Nats exploring trading Gio to Yankees
Here's an interesting report for Nationals fans to keep an eye on: If Washington lands White Sox ace Chris Sale, they may trade left Gio Gonazlez to the Yankees.
From Rich Mancuso of New York Sports Day:
A reliable National League source early this morning at the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings confirmed that the Washington Nationals are close to a deal with the New York Yankees that would send lefthander Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx. In return the Yankees would send the Nationals two minor league prospects and maybe another player.
Mancuso stipulates that the trade agreement, which is not yet official, would be contingent upon the Nationals acquiring Sale.
Gonzalez, 31, is in the last year of his contact with Washington after arriving in 2012 from Oakland. He finished the 2016 season with an 11-11 record, 4.57 ERA and 171 strikeouts.
UPDATE 1:34 p.m.: The Nationals lost on out Sale, who was instead traded to the Red Sox.
MORE NATIONALS: Syndergaard already tired of Sale to Nationals hype