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What’s on Tap: Previewing Tuesday’s action

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On May 18, the Rangers suffered a series sweep at the hands of the Athletics, dropping to 22-19. Since then, the Rangers have won 80 percent — 80 percent! — of their games. They’re 24-6 in their last 30 games, and they’re currently riding a seven-game winning streak. As a result, the Rangers enter play Tuesday 9.5 games ahead of the Mariners in first place in the AL West. Only the Cubs with 47 wins have achieved victory more often than the Rangers (46).

The Rangers have done this with DH Prince Fielder putting up a .583 OPS, Yu Darvish only being healthy enough to make three starts, Mitch Moreland having a down year, and Derek Holland pitching poorly. There hasn’t been any one particular player who has been shouldering most of the workload; rather, it’s been players like Jurickson Profar coming up and performing well (.873 OPS), Ian Desmond overcoming a slow start (.867 OPS), Colby Lewis having a career year (2.81 ERA), and Cole Hamels doing what he was brought to Arlington to do (2.88 ERA).

Lewis will toe the slab at 8:05 PM EDT on Tuesday night as the Rangers host Anthony DeSclafani and the Reds. Lewis flirted with a perfect game his last time out.

The rest of Tuesday’s action…

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo) @ Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson), 7:05 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Wilfredo Boscan), 7:05 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 7:07 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Bud Norris) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale) @ Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ New York Mets (Bartolo Colon), 7:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander), 7:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 7:10 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) @ Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel), 8:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey), 8:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray), 10:05 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir), 10:10 PM EDT

Washington Nationals roster and schedule for 2020

Nationals roster and schedule
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The 2020 season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The Washington Nationals roster and schedule:

NATIONALS ROSTER (projected)

When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.

In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Nationals roster to begin the season:

Catchers:

Yan Gomes
Kurt Suzuki

Infielders:

Eric Thames
Starlin Castro
Carter Kieboom
Trea Turner
Howie Kendrick
Asdrúbal Cabrera

Outfielders:

Juan Soto
Victor Robles
Adam Eaton
Michael Taylor
Andrew Stevenson

Starters:

Max Scherzer
Steven Strasburg
Patrick Corbin
Aníbal Sánchez
Austin Voth
Erick Fedde

Relievers:

Sean Doolittle
Daniel Hudson
Will Harris
Tanner Rainey
Wander Suero
Hunter Strickland
Roenis Elías


BREAKDOWN:

The Nationals shocked the world last year, recovering from an abysmal start to the season to win an NL Wild Card before cutting through the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Astros to win the first championship in franchise history. While the roster is largely unchanged, there is one gaping void: the loss of third baseman Anthony Rendon, who signed with the Angels. Rendon, a perennial MVP candidate, led the majors with 126 doubles and the NL with 44 doubles while smacking 34 homers with a 1.010 OPS last season. He’ll be replaced by the young Carter Kieboom and the veteran Kendrick and Cabrera. Those are some large shoes to fill.

With Rendon out of the picture, Juan Soto becomes the crux of the Nationals’ offense. Last year, he tied Rendon with 34 homers while knocking in 110 runs. He also, impressively, drew 108 walks, by far the highest on the team. The Nationals will likely have to utilize their speed even more. Last year, Soto stole 12 bases while Adam Eaton swiped 15, Victor Robles 28, and Trea Turner 35.

As was the case in 2019, the pitching will be how the Nationals punch their ticket to the postseason. Max Scherzer finished third in Cy Young balloting, his seventh consecutive top-five finish. The club retained Stephen Strasburg and brings back Patrick Corbin as well. There really isn’t a better 1-2-3 in the game. The rotation will be rounded out by Aníbal Sánchez and one of Austin Voth or Erick Fedde, though both are likely to see starts during the season.

The back of the bullpen is led by closer Sean Doolittle, who posted an uncharacteristically high — for him — 4.05 ERA last year. He still saved 29 games and averaged better than a strikeout per inning, so they’re in good hands. Daniel Hudson and Will Harris will work the seventh and eighth innings leading up to Doolittle.

As mentioned in the Braves preview, it’s tough to make any definitive statements about a 60-game season. Variance is going to have much more of an effect than it would in a 162-game season. Additionally, the NL East is highly competitive. It would be wrong to say with any degree of confidence that the Nationals will win the NL East. For example, the updated PECOTA standings from Baseball Prospectus only project a five-game difference between first and last place in the NL East. What we can say is that the Nationals will give everyone a run for their money in 2020.

NATIONALS SCHEDULE:

Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.

  • July 23, 25-26: vs. Yankees
  • July 27-28: vs. Blue Jays
  • July 29-30: @ Blue Jays
  • July 31-August 2: @ Marlins
  • August 4-5: vs. Mets
  • August 7-9: vs. Orioles
  • August 10-13: @ Mets
  • August 14-16: @ Orioles
  • August 17-19: @ Braves
  • August 21-24: vs. Marlins
  • August 25-27: vs. Phillies
  • August 28-30: @ Red Sox
  • August 31-September 3: @ Phillies
  • September 4-6: @ Braves
  • September 7-8: vs. Rays
  • September 10-13: vs. Braves
  • September 15-16: @ Rays
  • September 18-20: @ Marlins
  • September 21-23: vs. Phillies
  • September 24-27: vs. Mets

The entire Nationals schedule can be seen here.