The Nationals are activating reliever Drew Storen off the disabled list and designating outfielder Rick Ankiel for assignment before today's series finale against the Mets, moves that leave the club at least temporarily with an eight-man bullpen and four-man bench.
Storen, out since spring training with a bone spur in his right elbow that required surgery, will be available today to make his season debut and could be manager Davey Johnson's best option to close after Tyler Clippard struggled each of the last two nights.
Ankiel's removal from the roster is a bit of a surprise, but Johnson may have telegraphed the decision by giving Roger Bernadina significant playing time in the outfield over the last week.
The Nationals also today placed catcher Jhonatan Solano on the DL with an oblique strain and recalled Sandy Leon from Class AA Harrisburg.
Being aggressive at least year's trade deadline paid big dividends for the New York Mets, who saw Yoenis Cespedes help lead them to a World Series berth. They could be looking for something similar this year, as a new report has them targeting one of baseball's best catchers.
The news comes from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who says the Mets have shown interest in Milwaukee Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy.
Rosenthal notes that no deal is close, but time is running out before Monday's deadline. The Mets appear intent on adding a bat to their lineup and Lucroy would certainly provide some help.
An All-Star this season and back in 2014, the 30-year-old is batting .300 with 13 homers and 50 RBI through 93 games. He would be an upgrade at catcher for most teams, the Mets included.
We'll see if anything comes of this. The Mets could use some help and getting a player like Lucroy would definitely change their outlook in the NL East.
Nationals (59-42) vs. Giants (59-42) at AT&T Park
Now this should be fun. After splitting their two-game series at the first-place Indians, the Nats move on to one of the other teams primed to contend for this year's World Series, as on Thursday they begin a four-game set at the San Francisco Giants.
Not only are the Giants tied with the Nats at 59-42 on the season, they are winners of three of the last six championships. The last time the Nats made the playoffs it was San Francisco that knocked them out. Only so much can be made about a series in July, but this could easily be a postseason preview with the way things are going.
The opener will feature Tanner Roark (9-6, 3.05) pitching opposite NL All-Star Game starter Johnny Cueto (13-2, 2.53). Both are among the best starters in the National League and both are throwing to All-Star catchers in Wilson Ramos and Buster Posey.
Behind Roark will be the usual Nats' lineup with one noticeable change. Trea Turner is in at center field and not Ben Revere, despite the Nats facing a right-handed pitcher in an NL park. With the way Turner's been playing, though, it's not a big surprise.
Starting in center and leading off for the Giants is Denard Span, the former Nationals star who signed away in free agency this past offseason.
First pitch: 10:15 p.m.
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats -Tanner Roark vs. Giants - Johnny Cueto
CF Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
2B Daniel Murphy
C Wilson Ramos
LF Jayson Werth
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark
CF Denard Span
LF Angel Pagan
2B Joe Panik
C Buster Posey
SS Brandon Crawford
1B Brandon Belt
RF Mac Williamson
3B Connor Gillaspie
RHP Johnny Cueto
You know who has as many career stolen bases as Wilson Ramos and José Lobaton? Literally every single person to ever live on planet earth.
George Washington — actually, both George Washingtons, the real president and the racing president — have as many steals as the Nationals' catchers. So does an infant child born one second ago. So do you, reader of this blog.
Now, Ramos and Lobaton aren't in the majors to run on the basepaths. They're in the league to do work behind the dish, prevent others from stealing second or third and produce in the batter's box. But this stat captured by A.J. Ellis, their positional peer on the Dodgers, is pretty nuts nonetheless:
That's a combined 867 games between the two of them where not one thievery was committed. And there definitely had to be tons of chances in that span where the pitcher wasn't paying Ramos or Lobaton any mind, but still, neither of them took the risk to notch their first one.
If one of the backstops ever does make the impossible possible, the game needs to be stopped and a ceremony needs to take place. In the meantime, if someone on the mound ever throws over to keep Ramos or Lobaton close, that player should immediately be ejected.
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