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Wait is tough for several Nats players on playoff roster bubble

Wait is tough for several Nats players on playoff roster bubble

The four-day layoff for division-winning clubs before their MLB playoffs begin presents a tough dynamic for teams as a whole to try to stay sharp before falling into the intensity of October. It's even tougher for the players on the playoff roster bubble.

The Nationals have plenty of those this year with a deep crop of relievers and a bench that may need an extra guy or two to compensate for injuries in their starting lineup. The Nats have avoided specifics publicly about their thinking for those final roster spots and the players have largely been left in the dark, too. 

Even Clint Robinson, the backup first baseman who has a very good chance of making it, just doesn't know.

"If you want to know the truth, I don't even know if I'm on the playoff roster. We're still waiting on that," Robinson said. "I'm not going to lie and say that [waiting is] easy. It's like the last round of cuts in spring training. You get through the whole year here and then it's like 'man, here comes another round of cuts.' That's not what us as players, that's not usually our thinking."

[RELATED: Tough decisions to make for Nationals playoff roster]

Robinson compared the wait to last spring training when he was one of the final additions to the Nats' Opening Day roster. But then, his mindset was different. He was just looking for a job and his expectations are low. He also had spring training games to play and keep his mind off the final decision itself.

Now it's four full days.

"It stinks, to be honest with you. It stinks," he said. "It's a lot of sitting around, coming out with workouts at 11:30. Everybody just wants to get going. You know the playoffs are right there."

Like Robinson, reliever Sean Burnett is on the roster bubble, though his path to earning a spot isn't quite as clear. Burnett is in a crowded mix of relievers, hoping the fact he's a lefty helps his chances against a Dodgers team that struggles against them.

"They do have a lot of lefties and a bunch of lefties that I've faced throughout my career. I think I've had pretty good success against them. We'll find out what happens," he said.

[RELATED: Dusty Baker: Playoffs 'where I'm supposed to be']

For Burnett to even be at this point is notable in itself. The nine-year veteran made his return to the majors this season after missing all of 2015 with injuries. He's recovered from two Tommy John surgeries and just this season spent time with four different teams. It wasn't until Sept. 3 that he finally got back on the mound in a big league game.

"I've made a lot of progress here in the last couple months. Dating back to a full year ago, looking back on where I've come from, it's pretty neat to be in this opportunity to maybe make a postseason roster," he said. 

"But at the same time, I've gotta look at the big picture and see how far I've come. A year ago, I was sitting at home and watching all this stuff on TV. Now there's a chance, a small chance, that I could be part of it this season. I've made good strides. It was good to get back to the big leagues and have a full year to stay healthy."

Burnett and Robinson are among many Nats players on the bubble still waiting to hear their fate. Some have better chances than others, but only a few will get the call.

[RELATED: Nats not overly concerned injuries will affect defense]

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Cubs catcher Miguel Montero to be designated for assignment after angry comments about Nats game

Cubs catcher Miguel Montero to be designated for assignment after angry comments about Nats game

The Washington Nationals were stealing bases all night long against the Chicago Cubs, swiping a total of seven bags in a 6-1 victory on Tuesday.

RELATED: TREA TURNER TIES FRANCHISE RECORD

Following the game, tensions were high for Cubs catcher Miguel Montero who quickly pointed the blame at pitcher Jake Arrieta for the stolen bases. 

Cubs star first baseman Anthony Rizzo addressed the situation, calling Montero "selfish."

Less than 24 hours later, Montero was designated for assignment. 

The Cubs have decided to call up Triple-A catcher Victor Caratini to replace Montero, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

The Nats may have literally run Montero out of Chicago. 

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Trea Turner ties franchise record of stolen bases in single game with Nats 6-1 win over Cubs

Trea Turner ties franchise record of stolen bases in single game with Nats 6-1 win over Cubs

WASHINGTON -- Neither of the past two NL Cy Young Award winners had his best stuff, though Max Scherzer handled things much better than Jake Arrieta.

Scherzer allowed one run and two hits as the Washington Nationals knocked Arrieta out in the fifth inning on the way to a 6-1 victory Tuesday night. While Arrieta was slow to the plate and allowed seven stolen bases, Scherzer (9-5) threw a strong six innings, striking out six with no walks and retiring 16 of the final 17 batters he faced.

"I didn't really have great fastball command tonight, but I was able to use my offspeed to kind of collect outs when I needed to and I didn't walk anybody," said Scherzer, who allowed an earned run in the first inning for the first time since April but was in command the rest of the night. "When we needed shutdown innings we got them."

Arrieta (7-6), on the other hand, struggled with his control as he issued a season-high six walks and allowed five earned runs, getting the hook two batters into the fifth inning. The 2015 Cy Young winner hadn't walked more than three batters in a game this season.

Manager Joe Maddon quipped that the Cubs "let the wrong guys on base," but catcher Miguel Montero blamed Arrieta for all the steals.

"The reason why they were running left and right today because they know he was slow to the plate," a visibly frustrated Montero said. "It really sucked because the stolen bases go to me, and when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn't give me any time."

Four of the Montreal Expos/Nationals franchise record seven steals came from speedy shortstop Trea Turner, who Arrieta called a "factor" any time he's on.

"I don't care who is behind the plate," Arrieta said. "He's a threat."

MORE NATS: 2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

Washington manager Dusty Baker said the team knew Arrieta was a pitcher to run on, and the result was a lot of small ball for a team accustomed to driving in runs with power. Washington center fielder Michael Taylor went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, and Scherzer washed out the RBI triple he allowed to Kris Bryant in the first by driving in a run with an infield single off Arrieta's glove in the fourth.

When Scherzer was lifted after 93 pitches through six with a comfortable 6-1 lead, the Nationals' beleaguered bullpen got three clean innings of relief from Enny Romero, Blake Treinen, Oliver Perez and Matt Albers.

Trea Turner tied the franchise record with four steals in a game, repeating his own feat from two weeks ago. He had a chance in the eighth to break the record and move within one of the most in a game in the modern era of baseball but did not try with Bryce Harper up and a five-run lead.

"I don't think I was held, but I didn't know if I was supposed to go," said Turner, who has 32 stolen bases this season.