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Washington Nationals front load 2017 draft with pitchers

Washington Nationals front load 2017 draft with pitchers

In the 2017 MLB Draft, there is one position that the Washington Nationals made a focus: pitching.

It has been well documented about the Nationals' bullpen and their struggles throughout the early point of the season. Through June 13, the bullpen has 11 blown slaves. Now the MLB Draft is not a chance to find immediate help to fill in a position the team is lacking in, but rather development of their farm system. After all, even Stephen Strasburg played 39 minor league games, as a pitcher, before starting back in 2010. 

This season may have pushed ahead the plan for Mike Rizzo. Nine of the first 10 picks for Washington were pitchers and 20 of the team's 40. 

Round 1 (25): Seth Romero, LHP, Houston
Round 2 (65): Wil Crowe, RHP, South Carolina
Round 3 (103): Nick Raquet, LHP, William & Mary
Round 4 (133): Cole Freeman, 2B, LSU
Round 5 (163): Brigham, Hill, RHP, Texas A&M
Round 6 (193): Kyle Johnston, RHP, Texas
Round 7 (223): Jackson Tetreault, RHP, State College of Florida Manatee
Round 8 (253): Jared Brasher, RHP, Samford
Round 9 (283): Alex Troop, LHP, Michigan State
Round 10 (313): Trey Turner, RHP, Missouri State
Round 11 (343): Justin Connell, OF, American Heritage School
Round 12 (373): Jackson Stoeckinger, LHP, College of Central Florida
Round 13 (403): Eric Senior, OF, Midland College
Round 14 (433): Anthony Peroni, C, Mercer County CC
Round 15 (463): Bryce Montes de Oca, RHP, Missouri
Round 16 (493): Jake Scudder, 1B, Kansas State
Round 17 (523): Jared Johnson, LHP, Palm Beach State
Round 18 (553): Nick Choruby, OF, Texas A&M
Round 19 (583): Jonathan Pryor, OF, Wake Forest
Round 20 (613): Jake Cousins, RHP, Pennsylvania
Round 21 (643): Leif Strom, RHP, Pierce College
Round 22 (673): Nelson Galindez, LHP, Haines City High School
Round 23 (703): Jamori Blash, 1B, Cochise College
Round 24 (733): Tim Richards, SS, Cal State Fullerton
Round 25 (763): David Smith, RHP, Cal State Long Beach
Round 26 (793): Kameron Esthay, OF, Baylor
Round 27 (823): Darren Baker, SS, Jesuit High School
Round 28 (853): Nic Perkins, C, Drury University
Round 29 (883): Alex Dunlap, C, Stanford
Round 30 (913): Austin Guibor, OF, Fresno State
Round 31 (943): Jeremy McKinney, RHP, Indiana State
Round 32 (973): Phil Caulfield, 2B, Loyola Marymount
Round 33 (1,003): Adalberto Carrillo, C, Southern California
Round 34 (1,033): Bennett Sousa, LHP, Virginia
Round 35 (1,063): Jackson Cramer, 1B, West Virginia
Round 36 (1.093): Gabe Klobosits, RHP, Auburn
Round 37 (1,123): Kody Gratkowski, 3B, Fairhope High School
Round 38 (1,153): Jake Boone, SS, Torrey Pines High School
Round 39 (1,183): Kai Nelson, OF, Fieldston High School
Round 40 (1,213): Max Engelbrekt, LHP, Oregon State

Many of these pitchers, and the rest of the players, will never see action in a Washington Nationals uniform, so no bullpen relief is not right around the corner. It does make one wonder though if the parent association's bullpen struggles this year had any affect on their drafting strategy. 

Notable picks include a second Trey Turner from Missouri State, Dusty Baker's son, the cousin of Washington Redskins' quarterback, Kirk Cousins, and their lone position player in their first handful of picks, Cole Freeman.

MORE NATS: Nationals to wear all blue on Father's Day

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- The newest additions to the Washington bullpen came through when called upon to help deliver a victory to their new team.

Sean Doolittle stranded the potential tying run by escaping a jam for his second save for Washington, and Ryan Madson tossed a scoreless eighth inning as the Nationals held off the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 on Saturday night.

"The game can really speed up on you once you start getting guys on base," said Doolittle, who with Madson arrived in a trade with Oakland earlier in the week. "The crowd and the energy of the stadium can kind of take over and ... you have to be mindful enough to step off the mound, slow the game down a bit, kind of press reset."

Bryce Harper homered and drove in two runs, and starting pitcher Tanner Roark struck out a season-high 11. Roark (8-6) gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings for the NL East-leading Nationals.

"Curveball felt good. Just keep the hitter guessing," Roark said.

Harper hit his 25th home run on a full-count offspeed pitch from Anthony Banda (0-1), who lost in his major league debut.

Chris Iannetta hit a two-out RBI double in the bottom half, but the Nationals opened a 4-1 lead with a three-run sixth.

Harper hit a run-scoring double and scored on Ryan Zimmerman's double, and Anthony Rendon beat out an RBI single that sent Zimmerman home.

"They had a young guy out there that throws the ball really hard, has good command. He's going to be really good in the next couple of years for sure," Harper said of Banda. "Just got him this time and got a few runs up there."

A.J. Pollock tripled in the bottom half and scored on Jake Lamb's groundout, and Arizona reliever Jorge De La Rosa got out of bases-loaded trouble in the seventh when he struck out Harper and Zimmerman.

Doolittle, acquired from Oakland last weekend, walked Lamb leading off the ninth. Iannetta hit a broken-bat grounder to third, and Rendon's throw to second went into right field for an error that put runners on the corners.

Paul Goldschmidt hit a sacrifice fly, Chris Owings flied out and Doolittle struck out Ketel Marte for his second save with the Nationals.

"Madson's been great for us. Doolittle ... he never panics. It was great to see. It's a lot of fun to have a back end like that," Harper said.

Banda allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked none. He was optioned back to Triple-A Reno after the game.

"I felt confident. I threw the ball in the zone and kept attacking hitters," Banda said. "I made a couple of mistakes, Harper and the middle of the lineup."

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Nationals lose to Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion

Nationals lose to Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion

PHOENIX -- Three straight homers off Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the first inning had the Arizona Diamondbacks set up for an easy Major League Baseball victory over the NL East leaders.

Instead, they needed Brandon Drury's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 victory Friday night.

The home runs by David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb to start their first at-bat helped stake the Diamondbacks to a 5-0 lead against Scherzer.

"We did a great job getting his pitch count up and also putting runs on him," the Diamondbacks' A.J. Pollock said. "Great getting on him early. We would've loved to have (scrapped) a couple of runs in the middle of the game, but the key point is we won the game and we came through in the end."

The first-inning feat was the first in the majors since Baltimore did it against Texas on May 10, 2012. It was the first time in Nationals history (2005 to present) that an opposing team has hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.

The Diamondbacks last hit three straight homers on Aug. 11, 2010, when they had four in a row at Milwaukee.

It was the most runs allowed by Scherzer in a first inning since July 2, 2011, against San Francisco, when he gave up five.

"I had four pitches today. I was using them. They beat me," Scherzer said. "I just couldn't get the ball exactly where I wanted it. When you do that against this type of ballclub and these types of hitters, they are really good and they make you pay."

Scherzer's five runs allowed tied for the most he's given up in a start this season, and the five innings tied for his shortest outing of the season.

Arizona sent nine batters to the plate in the four-run first and the Diamondbacks made it 5-0 in the second on Lamb's RBI double.

Scherzer had allowed just one home run in 34 2/3 innings over five starts before he surrendered the three home runs on his first 10 pitches. The All-Star right-hander and two-time Cy Young Award winner was tagged for three homers in a game for the first time since May 6, 2016, against the Chicago Cubs, when he allowed four.

"I don't think I have ever seen a game starting off with three homers. Max hadn't seen it, either," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.

Peralta, Pollock and Lamb also each had a double, another historical first for the Diamondbacks.

The Nationals rallied with Daniel Murphy's run-scoring double in the fourth, then added two more runs in the fifth off Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley. A leadoff double for Matt Wieters led to Brian Goodwin's RBI groundout, and Ryan Raburn singled in Wilmer Difo with two outs.

Godley struck out a career high 10 in 5 2/3 innings, and allowed four runs and five hits.

Difo drove in two runs, one to cut the lead to 5-4 in the sixth and the other that tied the game on a groundout to first in the eighth.

The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the ninth on Pollock's triple and intentional walks to Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt by Enny Romero (2-4). After Gregor Blanco flied out to shallow left, Drury bounced a single into right field for Arizona's third win in four games.