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Stephen Strasburg ruled out for NLCS, throws bullpen session

Stephen Strasburg ruled out for NLCS, throws bullpen session

All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg will not be ready for the NL Championship Series, if the Nationals are to advance that far, manager Dusty Baker announced on Thursday ahead of Game 5 of the NLDS.

The Nationals previously expressed hope he would be ready. But that was before he hit a roadblock in his recovery.

"[The rehab] is never as fast as you would like. But he won't be available for the next series. It would be a miracle if he did," Baker said.

"You look at the calendar and just the math doesn't work out. He's not stretched out and prepared to take on such an important game," General manager Mike Rizzo said.

Baker and Rizzo confirmed what was suspected by most following Strasburg's recent setback. While throwing a bullpen session to test his right flexor mass strain earlier in the week, Strasburg felt discomfort in his elbow. He was slated to throw 35 pitches, but was stopped at around 30 because of the pain.

Strasburg threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park moments after Baker broke the news. He worked under the watchful eye of pitching coach Mike Maddux.

That is certainly good news. It could mean he will be available if the Nats make it all the way to the World Series. At the very least, it confirms that his setback was not a major one.

Rizzo expressed hope he can still line up for a potential return.

"Nothing's changed. He's still on his return-to-throw program," Rizzo said. "We're trying to build him up to see where he's at. We're certainly not going to rush him into doing something that he's incapable of doing. He is on his return-to-throw program and he's following the protocol that our doctors and trainers gave him."

Strasburg, 28, has been sidelined since Sept. 7 when he suffered the injury during a start against the Atlanta Braves. He underwent an MRI the following day, which determined his flexor strain.

The test confirmed his UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) was intact. Strasburg had the ligament repaired in 2010 when he underwent Tommy Surgery.

[RELATED: Former Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez to throw out Game 5 1st pitch]

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Nationals stage spirited rally in ninth but fall just short in series opener vs. Cubs

Nationals stage spirited rally in ninth but fall just short in series opener vs. Cubs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wade Davis struck out batting leader Ryan Zimmerman with runners on second and third to end Washington's ninth-inning rally, and the Chicago Cubs held off the Nationals 5-4 Monday night.

In jeopardy of being shut out for the first time this season, the NL East-leading Nationals scored four times in the ninth. Their comeback began against Hector Rondon and continued when Davis entered.

MORE: CSN'S UPDATED MLB POWER RANKINGS

With Washington down 5-3, Bryce Harper's single loaded the bases with two outs. Davis threw a wild pitch that scored a run before striking out a swinging Zimmerman, who's hitting .344. The final pitch bounced, and catcher Willson Contreras zipped a low throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to close out the victory.

Contreras hit a leadoff home run in his first career game-opening at-bat and Eddie Butler (4-2) worked five scoreless innings to keep the Cubs ahead.

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2017 MLB Power Rankings: The Dodgers don't lose anymore

2017 MLB Power Rankings: The Dodgers don't lose anymore

The Dodgers are living their best life right now. 

Cody Bellinger looks like he's just going to go and hit two home runs a game for the rest of the year, Yasiel Puig is fun again and they're fresh off a 10-game win streak. Kenley Jansen went 112 batters without issuing a walk. All of this is coming, by the way, during a year when Clayton Kershaw is more Very Good than he is Great.

It's a good time to be a fan of an incredibly young and talented team in a top-5 market with a well-regarded front office that's been written a blank check. How did everyone not named the Dodgers do this week? To the rankings! 

2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

30. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

2017 Record: 24-49
Previous Ranking: 30
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Notable Performance:  Maikel Franco (.333/.419/.481 last week)

And there goes Maikel Franco, right back on the trade block. The Phillies' rebuild is starting to look a lot murkier. 

29. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2017 Record: 27-50
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 1-9
Notable Performance: Brandon Belt (.316/.409/.947 last week)

It's weird to see the Giants play THIS poorly. Johnny Cueto is arguably the best available starter on the trade market though, and that obviously bodes well for their future. 

28. CINCINNATI REDS

2017 Record: 29-38
Previous Ranking: 27
Last 10 Games: 1-9
Notable Performance: Joey Votto (.360/.385/.680 last week)

When you go 1-9 over the last 10 and let the Nats put an 18-spot on you, you drop a spot or two in the rankings. Them's the rules. 

27. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2017 Record: 31-44
Previous Ranking: 29
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Notable Performance: Yangervis Solarte (.364/.462/.909 last week)

In an annual July tradition, the Padres will fleece someone for one of their relievers. Brad Hand in a Dodgers uniform, anyone? 

26. DETROIT TIGERS

2017 Record: 32-42
Previous Ranking: 15
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Notable Performance: Miguel Cabrera (.400/.444/.840 last week)

The Tigers are our biggest fallers of the week. 2-8 in their last 10, including a frustrating Perfect Game bid broken up by a bunt single. Not their best week. 

SEE THE REST OF THE RANKINGS HERE