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Nationals arrive in St. Louis for NLDS

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Nationals arrive in St. Louis for NLDS

ST. LOUIS -- Hello from Busch Stadium, which has something of a familiar feel right now. Weren't we just here? As a matter of fact, yes. The Nationals played here last weekend. The stakes this time are just a bit higher, though, and for proof of that all you need to do is look at the MLB Postseason logos being painted along the first and third base lines as we speak.

The NLDS gets underway tomorrow afternoon, with Gio Gonzalez facing Adam Wainwright. Today, we've got workouts by both the Nationals and Cardinals, press conferences with both managers and starting pitchers and open clubhouses for interviews.

Because they had no way of knowing who they'd be playing in this first round of the postseason, the Nationals waited until today to fly into St. Louis. They took off from Dulles International Airport at noon EDT and landed at Lambert-St. Louis about two hours later.

And they'll appear here at Busch Stadium around 4 p.m. EDT, with their on-field workout scheduled for 5 p.m. after the Cardinals wrap up their session.

We'll have to see what news emerges over the course of the afternoon, but here are a few items to watch for...

-- The revelation of the Nationals' 25-man roster for this series. They aren't actually required to finalize it until tomorrow morning, but Davey Johnson might just go ahead and announce it today. As speculated yesterday, the biggest question likely involves who gets the last spot in the bullpen (with Christian Garcia the odds-on favorite over John Lannan or Zach Duke) and who gets the last spot on the bench (with Tyler Moore a likelier choice than Mark DeRosa or Eury Perez).

-- The revelation of the order of the Nationals' rotation for this series. Because they're facing the right-handed-heavy Cardinals and not the left-handed-heavy Braves, forget about any move to get Lannan in the mix. Gonzalez will start Game 1 tomorrow, with Jordan Zimmermann in Game 2 on Monday. Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler will start Games 3 and 4; it's just a question of in what order. My hunch: Jackson gets Game 3, with Detwiler in Game 4.

-- What, if anything, does Stephen Strasburg have to say? He's not going to be on the active roster, but he did make the trip and will be in the dugout throughout the postseason. While those of us who are around the Nationals on a daily basis have long since moved on from the shutdown story, I can assure you the national media has not. They will absolutely be looking for Strasburg in the clubhouse today, and they're going to want to interview him. How will the right-hander deal with all the attention?

So, be sure to check back for all that and more...

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Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

Nationals beat Braves, snap losing skid behind Stephen Strasburg's strong start

ATLANTA (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg struck out a season-high 11 and kept up his recent domination of the Atlanta Braves, leading Washington to a 3-2 win Sunday that stopped the Nationals' four-game losing streak.

Strasburg (5-1) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, beating Atlanta for the second time this season and improving to 7-1 in his last nine starts against the Braves. He is 10-8 overall against Atlanta.

He reached double digits in strikeouts for the second time this season after fanning 10 Braves on April 20.

Strasburg faded in the eighth, when Dansby Swanson hit a two-run double. Koda Glover struck out Nick Markakis to end the inning and finished the six-hitter for his third save.

Daniel Murphy hit a second-inning homer off Jaime Garcia (1-3) and the Nationals added two unearned runs in the third.

Matt Adams was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and hit into a ninth-inning double play in his debut for Atlanta, a day after he was acquired from St. Louis. Matt Kemp led off the ninth, and Adams hit a line drive that was caught by Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on first base.

Garcia allowed three runs -- one earned -- and seven hits in eight innings with no walks.

Washington took a 3-0 lead in the third following fielding errors by Markakis in right and Garcia. Bryce Harper had a run-scoring single.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon and C Matt Wieters were given days off from the starting lineup. Rendon entered at third base in the eighth.

Braves: RHP Kris Medlen allowed one hits in six scoreless innings Saturday in his first start for Class A Florida. He missed most of 2016 with shoulder problems after his second Tommy John surgery. "That would be a real nice piece to have," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. Medlen pitched for Kansas City in 2015-16 and his last season with Atlanta was in 2013, when he was 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Following an off day, RHP Jacob Turner (2-2) is expected to start when the Nationals will open a series against Seattle on Tuesday.

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2-4) will take a 0-3 career record in three starts against Pittsburgh into Monday night's series opener against the Pirates.

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2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals

2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals

A week ago, the Nationals were looking unstoppable. Bryce Harper was hitting walkoff dingers left and right, there were multiple winning streaks, and the bullpen was only sorta bad. 

2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

A week's worth of games later - against the Braves, Pirates and Phillies, no less - and the Nats don't look nearly as stainless. Harper's hitting under .200 since his Mother's Day walkoff, the team lost 5 of 6, and the bullpen turned back into a pumpkin. Because of that, there's a new team at the top of the Power Rankings this week. Who is it? To the rankings! 

30. MIAMI MARLINS

2017 Record: 15-28
Previous Ranking: 24
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Dee Gordon (.318/.400/.364 last week)

Stanton hasn't homered in over two weeks, a stretch of 12 games. After going 2-8 over the last 10, including that weird Dodgers game, the Marlins have seen better weeks.  

29. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2017 Record: 16-30
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Notable Performance: Brad Hand (.300/.500/.600 last week)

Wil Myers' underwhelming season continues. The outfielder is hitting .150 over the last week, and only .219 over the last month. The Padres best position player is only worth .6 bWAR, and that's 5th-best on the team.

28. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2017 Record: 15-26
Previous Ranking: 23
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Daniel Nava (.429/.429/.571 last week)

They ran into Texas at exactly the wrong time. Getting starts that are consistently like Aaron Nola's last one will be huge for his development this season. 

27. KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2017 Record: 18-25
Previous Ranking: 27
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Notable Performance: Lorenzo Cain (.087/.125/.087 last week)

They're starting to play better, but upcomming series with the Yankees and Indians aren't making life any easier for KC. Jason Vargas (?!) has been their most valuable player this year (2.0 bWAR). 

26. ATLANTA BRAVES

2017 Record: 18-23
Previous Ranking: 30
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Notable Performance: Matt Kemp (.375/.423/.708 last week)

Losing Freeman for three months because of some dumb unspoken beef is just a testament to how stupid unwritten baseball rules are. The silver lining to this year, though, is that the Braves are going to fleece some team for Matt Kemp in July. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE