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Nats postponed, doubleheader Wednesday

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Nats postponed, doubleheader Wednesday

Tonight's series opener between the Nationals and Dodgers has been postponed due to the heavy storms sweeping through the area this afternoon and evening.

The two teams will play a single-admission doubleheader Wednesday, beginning at 4:05 p.m., with the nightcap starting at 7:05 p.m. or 30 minutes after completion of the first game, whichever is later.

Fans holding tickets for Wednesday's originally scheduled 7:05 p.m. can use those tickets for admissions to both games of the doubleheader. Fans holding tickets for tonight's rained out game must exchange them at the Nationals Park box office for seats of equal or lesser value to the doubleheader or any future 2012 home game (excluding Saturday's 1:05 p.m. against the Brewers or any potential playoff tiebreaker home game).

Tonight's postponement won't have much of an immediate effect on the Nationals' rotation; manager Davey Johnson said Jordan Zimmermann (who was supposed to start tonight) will now pitch the doubleheader opener, with John Lannan starting the nightcap as originally scheduled.

The Nationals will, however, need someone to make a spot start on Sunday against Milwaukee, because Johnson does not want to have to bring either Zimmermann or Lannan back on short rest.

"I just don't want any of my good, young pitchers to pitch on short rest at this point," the manager said. "I don't think Zim has done it, and he's had a little bit of that inflammation there in his right shoulder. I think he could do it, and have no problem, but it's not something I'd like to do to any of those in the rotation, at this point."

Johnson named several potential candidates to make that spot start, including September call-up Zach Duke, the recently activated Chien-Ming Wang and long reliever Craig Stammen. He sounded as though he's leaning toward using a right-hander against the Brewers, whose lineup is heavy with right-handed hitters.

"I haven't done my research on that match-up, but knowing what I know about Milwaukee, it could be I start somebody out of my 'pen," Johnson said. "I'll want a right-hander. Craig Stammen, he could be a candidate. Chien-Ming. I won't start anybody on three days' rest. So I will definitely go to the 'pen."

There is, of course, a healthy right-handed starter still on the Nationals' active roster named Stephen Strasburg.

"I'm sure Stras would volunteer," Johnson said with a laugh. "He is right-handed. He has been chomping."

Don't count on a surprise like that.

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Nats to add veteran Mat Latos when rosters expand on Sept. 1

Nats to add veteran Mat Latos when rosters expand on Sept. 1

We now know at least one of the players the Nats plan to call up when rosters expand on Sept. 1. That would be veteran right-hander Mat Latos, who will waive an opt-out clause in his contract to remain at Triple-A Syracuse until the 1st, then join the Nationals.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the news:

Latos, 28, was signed by the Nats on June 29. He made two appearances with the Gulf Coast League Nationals before getting promoted to Syracuse. In Triple-A he gave up just two earned runs in 17 innings across three starts. Latos has 10 strikeouts and seven walks.

Exactly what role Latos will have on the big league roster is hard to tell at this point. One could see him pitching out of the bullpen, but until Joe Ross and Stephen Strasburg return to their rotation, there isn't much clarity as to who will start in their place moving forward.

Rookies Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole have yet to produce consistently. Having a veteran option for a spot start may appeal to the Nats, given what they've seen from that trio in recent weeks.

Latos last pitched for the Chicago White Sox, who cut him loose in May. He went 6-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 11 starts. Latos has also played for the Padres, Reds, Marlins, Dodgers and Angels. He played under manager Dusty Baker in Cincinnati.

[RELATED: Giolito's velocity remains down, but he and Nats aren't worried]

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Nats react to bizarre play when ump hit by wild pitch in loss to Rockies

Nats react to bizarre play when ump hit by wild pitch in loss to Rockies

In the eighth inning on Sunday, when Koda Glover's 96 mile per hour fastball sailed past Wilson Ramos' glove, Ramos heard a sound behind him and it was loud. That ball hit something and it wasn't the backstop. Ramos knows that sound. This was different.

He turned and saw home plate ump Mike Muchlinski on the ground. Muchlinski had fallen to his knees in pain, having taken a direct shot to his left shoulder.

"I knew it was a very hard thrown baseball. I heard the impact and it was very, very hard and loud," Ramos said through interpreter Octavio Martinez. "Based on the velocity of the ball, I knew it had impacted him pretty hard. The reaction I did was just to make sure the umpire was okay."

Ramos then realized the play was live, that the ball had ricocheted to the backstop, that Rockies shortstop Daniel Descalso had taken off from second and was on his way home.

"When I looked for the ball, I looked in the wrong direction because I didn't find it," Ramos said. "I turned around and couldn't find the baseball right away, so I felt a little lost in that sense."

Descalso would score on what was ruled a wild pitch. Muchlinksi remained behind home plate to call the rest of the game. But the Nats had allowed an insurance run that came in handy for the Rockies later on, especially after Bryce Harper hit a solo homer in the ninth to make it a 5-3 game. 

"That would’ve been a one run game, a different story. The ball hit the umpire. Willie was concerned about the umpire. The batter kept running, Baker said. "I guess in essence you got to go get the ball then come back and see how he is. I’ve never seen that play before."

Technically, the play falls on Ramos, who should have tracked the ball to the backstop and retrieved it. He was the only one who had a chance at it. Glover was too far away, as was first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. 

Glover, though, took ownership of the original mistake, the errant pitch.

"Me and Ramos got crossed up. I thought he put down a different pitch. it's on me, I squared the umpire up. Honestly, I don't know how that run's able to score. At most, I thought he'd be told to got to third. But that's just baseball," he said.

Given Baker - who has been in MLB for six decades - had never seen such a play, it's no surprise that Glover, a rookie, hadn't either. 

They may never see it again. For Ramos, though, he'll have to keep it in mind moving forward and hope the result is different next time, if there is one.

"I honestly don't know what the umpires could have done in that situation," he said. "I really don't know what they could do in that situation. It's really hard."

[RELATED: Giolito decent, but Nats offense falls short in loss to Colorado Rockies]

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Lucas Giolito's velocity remains down, but he and Nats aren't worried

Lucas Giolito's velocity remains down, but he and Nats aren't worried

Through Lucas Giolito's first four big league starts, there has been something noticeably off from what we've seen and heard over the years about what makes him one of the top prospects in all of baseball. His fastball is supposed to sit comfortably in the high-90s and occasionally touch triple digits. From his arm angle at 6-foot-6, and countered with his hooking curveball, his fastball was a big reason scouts say he has superstar potential.

He could very well still become one of the game's best pitchers, but the Nats' rookie remains a work in progress and his fastball is currently nowhere near as fast as it once was. On Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, Giolito sat consistently around 93 miles per hour. That's not bad at all, but it's a far cry from the prodigious speed he used to have.

We've heard manager Dusty Baker offer his theories and so far he's downplayed it as not being a concern. On Sunday, we heard for the first time from Giolito himself on the subject, as well as from his opponents.

Here is what Giolito had to say:

"I can pitch at 93 if I’m hitting my spots and mixing up well. I think I left way too many fastballs up over the middle of the plate. Those are the ones that got hit pretty hard. So, the velocity I don’t think is a huge deal as long as I’m pitching the way I should be pitching."

Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who homered and landed an RBI single off Giolito, offered his take on the velocity dip.

"The reports you read about him say he throws about 95, 97. Those are the reports we saw and on video. It wasn't that," he said. "It doesn't matter. His length, the ball kind of gets on you, has a little jump to it. He's so tall, so big. It's not a comfortable at-bat," Arenado said.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said that despite the results and the velocity, he can see why there was so much hype around Giolito.

“The future is bright, for sure,” Weiss said. “Big kid, big time arm. He showed a really good breaking ball and threw some good changeups to go with a power fastball. I have heard a lot about him, going back to when he was in high school, and for good reason."

Giolito remains a big part of the Nats' future plans, but at this point in his career he is a raw talent. He's still building confidence with his changeup and working on the command of his curveball. And now he's trying to learn how to pitch with a fastball that's not as lethal as it once was.

That's a tough situation for a young pitcher who doesn't have the experience a veteran would have to draw from.

"I’ve been pitching a lot better [at Triple-A] and figuring some stuff out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to execute on a few pitches today," Giolito said after Sunday's 5-3 loss. "The only thing I can do is continue to work and try to get better about living down the zone, getting ahead of guys, and then throwing all my pitches for strikes and putting guys away."

Giolito still showed promise on Sunday with a career-high five innings pitched. But the swing-and-miss stuff that he's shown over the years as a prospect has yet to follow him to the majors.

"We haven't seen it yet at the major league level," Baker said. "His fastball is relatively straight, so you've gotta locate it well. Hopefully it will get better."

[RELATED: Giolito decent, but Nats offense falls short in loss to Colorado Rockies]

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