With their trade for Denard Span the Nationals’ outfield is set with Span in center field and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth flanking him in the corners. That would shift Michael Morse from left field to first base and seemingly signal the end of free agent Adam LaRoche’s time in Washington, but general manager Mike Rizzo might have another idea.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spoke to a source who says the Nationals are “definitely shopping Morse a little bit.” If they traded Morse they’d presumably re-sign LaRoche to play first base, although they certainly have plenty of competition for him on the open market right now.
Washington potentially trading Morse isn’t surprising–I wrote about the possibility just last week, and that was before the Span deal. He’s been excellent since becoming a regular for the Nationals in mid-2010, hitting .296 with 64 homers and an .861 OPS in 346 games, but Morse is one season from free agency and Rizzo may not be keen on inking him to a long-term deal at age 31.
If the Nationals can re-sign LaRoche to a two- or three-year deal and swap Morse for some prospects or help elsewhere, that would make a lot of sense. Or if they wanted to save money and get younger the Nationals could deal Morse, not re-sign LaRoche, and turn first base over to 25-year-old Tyler Moore.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.