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Wang to start Sunday for Nats

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Wang to start Sunday for Nats

Faced with a decision to pitch a starter on short rest or use a spot start from his bullpen on Sunday against the Brewers, Nats manager Davey Johnson has decided to send Chien-Ming Wang to the mound for his first start since June 19. The situation arose after a postponed game on Tuesday against the Dodgers forced a doubleheader the following day.

After using both Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan on Wednesday against L.A., Johnson looked towards Sunday with a decision between Craig Stammen and Wang. The Nationals manager narrowed it down between the two based on matchups as the Brewers offer a lineup rife with right-handed bats. Pitching Wang also allows Johnson to keep Stammen in his current role in the bullpen, a middle-inning specialist with the ability to pitch in long relief.

The other guy I was going to do is Stammen, but I really like the role that he is in, he is invaluable in the role. If I started him I would lose him two or three days before and two or three days after, I dont want to do that at this point.

Wang appeared in Wednesdays second game, his first outing since June 30. He pitched 2 13 innings in relief and allowed zero earned runs with just a pair of hits offered to the Dodgers. Johnson liked what he saw and hopes to get a productive start out of the pitcher he originally pegged as his fifth starter back in March.

I like the way Chien-Ming Wang threw last night, he had good sink, Johnson said.

I like who he is and who he is all about and I like his competitiveness. He has been in big games and all these are big games. I think he will do us a good job on Sunday.

Wang pitching in a meaningful September game is something that sounded more realistic back when he was originally named the fifth starter. But now, after a season plagued by injuries and inconsistency, few could have guessed just a week ago he would get the opportunity. Johnson, however, doesnt forget how good he looked early on.

Hes had just a bunch of injuries that really set him back. I liked where he was in the spring, he was going to be my fifth starter over Ross Detwiler, he said.

With the terrible leg injury and maybe that led to some mechanical problems, but I like our chances with him on the mound.

Wang began the season on the disabled list with a hamstring and also hurt his hip later on in the year. Before Wednesday's game he hadn't even pitched in a minor league game since September 1.

Wang is healthy now and looked good on Wednesday, but despite getting the start Davey doesnt expect anything to change in the rotation after Sunday. If anyones job would be in jeopardy after a strong outing by Wang it would be Lannan who allowed six runs in just 3 23 innings, his worse start of the season, but Johnson confirmed he is safe for now.

One start is not going to put him in my rotation, although Lannan was all messed up. He just couldnt find the rhythm, the groove, when his other three starts up here have been great. I told Johnny dont worry about it, nothing is happening.

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MLB Power Rankings: The Royals arrived, just in time

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MLB Power Rankings: The Royals arrived, just in time

Just when everyone was writing the 2016 Kansas City Royals' obituary, they win 9 in a row and plant themselves in the thick of the playoff race. It's possibly the most Royals thing in the world to do. How did the other teams fare? To the rankings! 

30. Atlanta Braves (LW: 30)

Adios, Jeff Francoeur. 

29. Minnesota Twins (LW: 29)

It's still weird to think that before this season, people thought they'd be a playoff team. 

28.  Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 28)

Matt Wisler looked dominant in his almost-no-hitter of the Diamondbacks. 

27. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 25) 

The Joey Votto offseason trade rumors are starting to heat up! 

26. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (LW: 26)

Are there really rumors that the Angels are the team seriously looking into Tim Tebow?

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE

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Podcast - 'Baseball in the District' - Nats make the traded they needed

Podcast - 'Baseball in the District' - Nats make the traded they needed

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On this week's episode of 'Baseball in the District,' Tim Murray and I began by breaking down the Nats' recent trade for lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski, how he will fit in their bullpen and how much they potentially miss Max Schrock, the prospect that they gave up.

We then discussed Katie Ledecky's appearance at Nationals Park and her interview with the media. That got us talking about the most awkward experiences we've ever had with famous people.

Also in this week's episode was talk about Trea Turner's impact this season and whether he is currently the Nats' most complete player. Mixed in is our thoughts about the Beltway Series and why the O's have had the Nats' number.

Feel free to share your opinions with us on Twitter @ChaseHughesCSN and @1TimMurray.

You can listen to the show on ESPN 980's website or download the show on iTunes.

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Marc Rzepczynski excited to join Nationals in middle of pennant race

Marc Rzepczynski excited to join Nationals in middle of pennant race

The Nationals announced they had activated reliever Marc Rzepczynski to their roster at 5 p.m. on Thursday, yet at that time the lefty was 30,000 feet in the air. He was on a cross country flight, having left after a delay from San Francisco. 

He eventually landed at Dulles Airport in Sterling, Va. and made the drive to 1500 South Capitol St., where the Nats were in the middle of game against the Baltimore Orioles. Rzepczynski threw his jersey on and got right to work, even warming up in the eighth inning for a potential debut with his new team.

That debut did not happen, it will have to wait at least one more day, but Rzepczynski was thrilled to be with his new team, a first-place club, after coming over from the 55-72 Oakland Athletics.

"It's amazing. At the end of the day, with a team that's losing, your'e making plans for the offseason already. Then, all of a sudden, hopefully I have a chance to play in October," Rzepczynski said. "It was one of those where it reminded me a lot of '11 when I was with the Cardinals. Being traded at the deadline, then all of a sudden winning the World Series. So, hopefully I'll have the same thing happen here."

Rzepczynski actually found out he was traded on Wednesday. Like Mark Melancon, whom the Nats traded for in July before the deadline, Rzepczynski heard the news after awaking from a nap.

"I'm excited. Little bit in shock. I've been traded, now this is my fifth time. Three times at the deadline. This one got me a little bit. I was quite shocked yesterday. I was actually taking a nap when this happened. We had a day game, so I was just relaxing," he said. "I'm definitely happy to be here. To go from a team that's struggling a little bit to a team that's in first place. What else would you ask for at this time of the year?"

Rzepczynski joined the Nationals in a deal that sent infield prospect Max Schrock and cash to the Athletics. The Nats brought in some help for their bullpen, hoping Rzepczynski can deepen and balance out their relief staff.

Rzepczynski - who has a 3.00 ERA in 56 games this season - described in detail what type of pitcher the Nats just acquired.

"For me, it's just sinker inside or away to lefties. That's not a secret. Every lefty, now that I've been in the AL twice and the NL now three times too, they know what they're facing. I'm just going to go out there and compete and do my job. I was struggling earlier getting lefties out. I feel like I'm back now. I feel like I'm ready," he said.

Rzepczynski is likely to make his Nationals debut this weekend against the Colorado Rockies. He's arrived just in time, as the Rockies boast several dangerous left-handed batters including Carlos Gonzalez, D.J. LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon. More sinkers inside.

[RELATED: Max Scherzer digs down deep to help Nats, shut up Orioles fans]

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