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Nationals extend GM Mike Rizzo through 2020

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Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was a lame duck this year. He’s not lame anymore: the Nats just agreed to a two-year contract extension, taking him through the 2020 season.

The Nats have a a .572 winning percentage since Rizzo took over as the GM in 2009, have won four division championships and are currently on a string of six consecutive winning seasons. During his tenure the club has drafted Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, traded for Trea Turner and Adam Eaton and signed free agents Max Scherzer and Daniel Murphy. He has transformed the club from a bottom-dweller to one of the best in the game. The only knock on the club in that time is its inability to escape the first round of the playoffs, though that’s not the sort of thing in a GM’s control.

Rizzo will have some challenges to face in the next couple of years. Chief among them: Bryce Harper will be a free agent this winter and will either cause the Nats to have to totally alter their budget to keep him or cause them to fill the hole his departure will cause if he leaves.

Rizzo will now be handling that task with at least some job security. Not a ton, actually — other top baseball executives like Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein have recently received five-year deals. Even others who, like Rizzo, do not have a World Series ring, have gotten longer pacts. Given the age and makeup of this team, however, it’s also the case that, come 2020, ownership is facing a totally different situation than it is now, so they may want the flexibility.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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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.