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Nats await 2011 playoff hero Carpenter

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Nats await 2011 playoff hero Carpenter

Cardinals Game 3 starter Chris Carpenter earned a place in baseball history last year with his performance in the World Series and has an impressive playoff resume overall. This season, however, Carpenter is in a unique situation having made just three total starts since returning from injury.

Carpenter suffered a nerve problem in his shoulder in February and was originally diagnosed to miss the entire season after undergoing surgery in July. But the former Cy Young winner made a quick recovery and returned on September 21 to log 17 innings before entering the postseason.

It is a much different situation compared to last year when Carpenter entered the playoffs with a league-leading 237 13 innings pitched. Despite the excessive workload of last season, the 37-year-old said he would take it over the lack of innings this year if given the choice.

To be honest with you, I'd much rather have all the innings than not the innings, because you know what you're going to get, he said. What have I thrown, 17 innings or something? You know, that's not too many innings to work the kinks out in live games.

Carpenter was admittedly rusty in his three starts this season, but the results werent bad at all. He allowed two runs through five in his first outing against the Cubs and then posted two quality starts to finish the year.

If Carpenter was able to pitch that well during the regular season, he may be even better in the playoffs. His career ERA of 3.76 in 15 MLB seasons is good, but his 3.05 ERA through 94 13 playoff innings is great.

On Tuesday, the day before his Game 3 start, Carpenter explained his love for the postseason.

This is what I live for, he said. I woke up this morning; it's the day before and I got that going in my stomach already.I couldn't wait to get here and talk to the media, do my thing. It's an exciting time."

Most of the Nationals have never played in the playoffs before this year. Against Carpenter, their inexperience will be matched with one of the most playoff seasoned pitchers in baseball.

Obviously hes done a lot, Ryan Zimmerman said. This whole team over there has been in this situation many a time.

Bryce Harper said he didnt watch many of Carpenters 2011 playoff starts, but expects a battle from the 66 ace.

Carpenter is unbelievable. He is an All-Star, hes a competitor out there, he said.

He wants to beat you with all of his stuff. Hes a veteran guy out there and its going to be tough. But its going to be fun, hes unbelievable so Im up for the challenge.

The Nationals haven't faced Carpenter since August 26, 2010.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others