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Porter leaving Nats to become Astros manager

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Porter leaving Nats to become Astros manager

PHILADELPHIA -- The Houston Astros will name Bo Porter their new manager this morning, though the 40-year-old will finish out the season as the Nationals third base coach before officially taking over.

A club source confirmed the hiring, which was first reported early this morning by Foxsports.com.

Porter, who was in the coaching box at Citizens Bank Park for last night's Nationals victory, will be in Houston today for an 11 a.m. EDT news conference where he will be named the 21st manager in the Astros' 51-year history.

It's not yet known if Porter will be back in Philadelphia in time to coach tonight's series finale against the Phillies, but he will finish out the season with the Nationals in his current capacity before leaving for good.

A candidate for several managerial jobs over the last three years, Porter interviewed with the Astros two weeks ago. The Houston resident has no previous connection to the Astros organization, but he did know new owner Jim Crane prior to the interview.

Porter will face a stiff challenge guiding an Astros club that will finish with the majors' worst record this season and next year is relocating to an American League West division loaded with perennial playoff contenders in the Rangers, Angels and Athletics.

His departure erases any possibility of him replacing Davey Johnson once the 69-year-old Nationals manager decides to retire. Porter was considered a potential choice, along with bench coach Randy Knorr, who now becomes the in-house favorite to succeed Johnson, a move that's not expected to take place until 2014 at the earliest.

The Nationals will need to find a new third base coach to succeed Porter (who has held that job the last two seasons) next year. Tony Beasley, who managed at Class AAA Syracuse this season and served as Frank Robinson's third base coach in 2006, would probably be among those considered.

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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.

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Scherzer, Turner keep rolling in Nats win, Espinosa heating up?

Scherzer, Turner keep rolling in Nats win, Espinosa heating up?

Notes and observations from the Nats' 3-2 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park…

Scherzer again flirts with a no-no: It's a stat that just keeps getting more amazing the more we watch Max Scherzer go to work as a Washington National. Tuesday night was the ninth time in 61 starts since he signed with the Nats that Scherzer has taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning. That's 15 percent of his starts, which - not surprisingly - is more than any other pitcher in baseball. Scherzer is so locked in when he takes the mound that it often takes opposing teams five full innings to figure him out.

Scherzer was perfect through 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday before Cameron Rupp drew a walk in the fifth. And he didn't allow a hit until Freddy Galvis doubled to begin the bottom of the sixth. Scherzer ended up allowing a two-run homer to Ryan Howard, but he made it eight innings and only gave up three hits and that one walk to Rupp. Scherzer struck out 11 batters and now holds a Nationals record for most double-digit strikeout games in one season with 12. 

Scherzer stumbled a bit in consecutive starts in the middle of August when he gave up eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings against the Rockies and Braves. But in two outings since, Scherzer has allowed just two runs across 16 innings with 21 strikeouts and one walk. He now holds a 2.89 ERA across 190 total innings pitched this season. And since his seven-run start at Wrigley on May 6, Scherzer has a 2.39 ERA in 21 starts with a .531 opponents' OPS.

Turner does his thing: It has become a common sight for Trea Turner to not just get on base in every game, but often to record at least two hits. He had two singles on Tuesday to record his 21st multi-hit game of the year in 43 total outings, 41 of them starts. If Turner is in the starting lineup, he is more likely than not to have at least two hits. And with 45 hits in August, he's just two away from the franchise record for hits in one calendar month. The odds he gets there on Wednesday night would seem to be good.

Turner has now reached base in 20 straight games. Only one other Nats rookie - Danny Espinosa - has accomplished that in team history. But it's not just getting on base that makes Turner special, of course. He got another steal in the 3-2 win and now has 18 on the year. That tied Bryce Harper's rookie record for a single season set back in 2012. Again, Turner has played in just 43 games.

Espinosa getting hot?: Don't look now, but Espinosa might be quietly heating up. The Nats shortstop had another solid game on Tuesday with two hits and a walk. He's now batting .355 (11-for-31) in his last nine games with a 1.009 OPS during that stretch. It's a small sample size, of course, but that's a positive sign for a guy who in 45 games since July 6 has hit just .191/.294/.268. This is quite easily the most consistent two-week stretch that he's had in months.

Harper gets on again: It's now 17 games since Harper has been back and he just keeps getting on base. He's reached in all of those outings and on Tuesday landed an RBI double in the first inning and later scored on a Wilson Ramos single. Harper continues to be on a tear since he got back from his neck injury. That was his 18th RBI and his seventh double since his return.

[RELATED: Turner on playing like a little kid, rest helped Ramos]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES

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Scherzer dominant as Nationals edge Phillies 3-2

Scherzer dominant as Nationals edge Phillies 3-2

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- For most pitchers, flirting with a no-hitter might be one of the most memorable days of your career. For Max Scherzer, it was just another day at the office.

Scherzer didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and he was dominant through eight as the Washington Nationals continued their mastery of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.

Scherzer (15-7) allowed three hits and struck out 11 while walking one. He was perfect through the first four innings, striking out five consecutive batters - all swinging - between the second and third innings.

He has taken a no-hitter into the sixth in nine of his 61 all-time starts with the Nationals, and has allowed just five total hits in his last two outings.

"Hey man, I mean that's why he's Max," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "You know we had a good chance to win when Max pitches, and there's a good chance of him going deep in the game."

Ryan Howard, who got the start despite being 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against Scherzer coming in, hit an opposite-field two-run home run in the seventh inning to break up the shutout and pull the Phillies within 3-2.

But Scherzer closed the door from there, striking out three more in the seventh and eighth en route to his 15th win of the season.

"I knew I was throwing the ball well, I knew I had all the pitches working, I knew I could go out there and keep different looks going multiple times throughout the lineup and really sequence guys right," Scherzer said. "When I'm able to throw all my pitches for strikes it really allows (catcher Wilson Ramos) to do his job back there and come up with the right sequence."

Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 37th save, getting a strikeout and inducing a big game-ending double play after issuing a leadoff walk.

Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera collected the only other hits for the Phillies, who have lost six of eight to fall 12 games below .500. They have dropped their last eight games to first-place Washington, which matches the team record for consecutive losses vs. the Nationals/Expos franchise.

"We need to improve our plate discipline," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're just not getting hits. But Scherzer was dominant, you've got to give him credit. He's a tough cookie."

Scherzer, who pitched two no-hitters last season, didn't allow a runner to reach base until Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp walked with one out in the fifth. Galvis ripped a double to right-field to lead off the sixth to break up Scherzer's no-hit bid, but was picked off second base by Scherzer to end the scoring threat.

The Washington ace also had a sacrifice-bunt RBI in the fourth after Ryan Zimmerman walked and Danny Espinosa ripped a single.

The Nationals staked Scherzer to an early lead in the first inning. With two outs and nobody on, Daniel Murphy doubled before scoring on a double by Bryce Harper, his 19th RBI in the last 19 games. Ramos brought Harper home with an RBI single to put the Nats ahead 2-0.

"He can smell it," Baker said. "When he gets some runs, it's usually a shutdown inning. He doesn't give it right back. It usually takes a while for them to score off of Max."

Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff (9-13), who walked just six batters in his last eight starts coming in, issued three walks and allowed five hits and three earned runs through six innings.

Scherzer's double-digit strikeout game was the 12th of the season, setting a Nationals record. He improved his career record to 7-1 against the Phillies, including a 6-0 mark since he joined the Nats in 2015.

HOWARD'S STILL GOT POP

Howard's homer was the 20th of the season and the 377th of his career, tying him with Jeff Kent and Norm Cash for 73rd on MLB's all-time list. His next home run will tie him with Matt Williams for 72nd place.

He has 10 career 20-homer seasons, the second most in Phillies history behind only Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (14).

HOME-PLATE COLLISION

The fourth inning ended when Espinosa was thrown out at the plate on a dart from Phillies right fielder Aaron Altherr. On the play, Espinosa collided with Rupp at home, which seemed to anger some Phillies.

Afterwards, Mackanin admitted that "he didn't think he had to bowl him over," but Howard laughed that Rupp probably "liked it" and "that's baseball."

OWNING PHILLY

The Nationals, who opened their six-game road trip with a 4-0 victory over the Phillies on Monday, are 7-1 at Citizens Bank Park this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: Peter Bourjos missed his second straight game after getting hit in the left wrist by a pitch Sunday.

UP NEXT

The Phillies and Nationals wrap up their three-game series Wednesday night with Philadelphia LHP Adam Morgan (1-8, 6.50) opposing LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-9, 4.25).