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The Morning Briefing: Welcome to Washington DC, Smash Brothers

Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball headlines, news and the latest news coming out of Washington Nationals Spring Training for Thursday, March 25

Good Thursday Morning, Washington Nationals Fans. Upcoming Games:

  • 3/25/2021 – Nationals @ Marlins 6:05 pm EST
  • 3/26/2021 – Nationals @ Mets 6:10 pm EST
  • 3/28/2021 — Cardinals @ Nationals 1:05 pm EST
  • 3/29/2021 — Astros @ Nationals 1:05 pm EST

Make sure to follow The Nats Report on Twitter for updates on the latest Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball during the day! 

Countdown Clock: Opening Day: 8 Days 

Today’s Morning Briefing was written by Richard and edited by Jonathan.

Today’s Top Story: Welcome to Washington D.C., Smash Brothers

If I was to say to you back in December that both Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Bell would be a great pair at first base many of you might have laughed at us. Honestly, I think that I would have laughed myself. However, this Spring Training proved that maybe Mike Rizzo pulled off another great trade and platoon at first base.

Last night, during the Nationals v. Astros game, Mark Zuckerman from MASN Sports shared a stat that caught my attention. According to Zuckerman, “The combined spring training stats for Josh Bell and Ryan Zimmerman are: .434 AVG (23-for-53), 7 2B, 9 HR, 22 RBI, .508 OBP, 1.075 SLG, 1.683 OPS.” Yeah, that’s pretty impressive to say the least! Hopefully, it will continue throughout the season. Either way, this new platoon at 1B is looking ready for the start of the season…

We will have some further thoughts on this later today, so please make sure to check back at The Nats Report.

Spring Training Game Notes Recap: Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros

Last night, the Washington Nationals lost an 11-8 slugfest to the Houston Astros. The Nationals really did a number on Houston’s starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Washington batted around while scoring five runs in the first inning and tacked on three more in the second. Ryan Zimmerman homered in each of his first two at-bats, and Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber both homered to continue their recent power surge. Against Odorizzi, those three players went a combined 4-for-5, with four home runs and 6 RBI. Pretty good stats. Additionally, Victor Robles did some damage himself, reaching base twice in the first inning and finishing 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI.

Meanwhile, utility man Josh Harrison continued his push to earn an everyday spot in the lineup, finishing 2-for-3 to improve his batting average to .440 and his OPS to an eye-popping 1.241 this Spring. Overall, the Washington Nationals offense looked really good last night, but Carter Kieboom continued to struggle. Kieboom finished 0-for-2 to lower his average to .158, but he did manage to draw a pair of walks in the contest. 

Before all the fireworks started, the Washington Nationals announced that they optioned RHP Ryne Harper and RHP Dakota Bacus to Triple A- Rochester as the Nationals have started to reduce the roster as we inch closer and closer to Opening Day. Talking about pitching…. 

Right-Handed pitcher and 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg had his first start since being removed from his last start with what was reported to be a calf strain (more on this later). Strasburg’s command was a bit off in his return, throwing only 44 of his 83 pitches for strikes while striking out one batter and walking five. However, the most important stat is that he was able to face 19 batters and lasted four innings as he continues to ramp up for the Regular Season.

Strasburg told reporters that he didn’t have any issues with his left calf, which was surprising given that he revealed the original injury was actually a ruptured plantaris tendon. Apparently, doctors indicated to Strasburg that people don’t need this tendon and it doesn’t need to be repaired. We will be keeping an eye on Strasburg as he gets back into the swing of things before the season starts.

Potential closer Brad Hand also struggled, surrendering four runs in just 1/3 of an inning. 

On a positive note, RHP Tanner Rainey pitched a scoreless inning in his second appearance of the Spring after being sidelined with a muscle strain.

Luis Garcia Is Not Ready Just Yet?

Last week, Brandon took a look at Washington Nationals prospect Luis Garica, and answered the question: Is he the real deal? Well, today, Frank, our other contributor, thinks that Luis Garica is not ready for the big stage.

From the article: “Garcia is going to be a stud, but he should not be rushed to the bigs while there are still clear holes in his game. If the team decides to look elsewhere for a third basemen in the event that Kieboom can’t claim that position, they should not look at Garcia right now. Instead they should use Josh Harrison and Hernan Perez, who are having great Spring Trainings, as a bridge to either Garcia or Kieboom.”

Click here to read the full article

Podcast Alert: In the Clubhouse with the Nats Report

Earlier this morning, I released a bonus episode of In the Clubhouse with the Nats Report. I invited my good friend Jeremy onto the podcast and we talked all about Spring Training observations, what the Nationals should do at third base and of course we talked about pitching! Take a listen and then rate and review! Listen to the full epsiode on all the major podcasting platforms:

Major League News: MLB memo warns teams about crackdown on use of foreign substances on baseballs 

In a memo obtained today by ESPN, it looks like Major League Baseball is going to be cracking down on the use of foreign substances that might be placed on baseballs. From the ESPN Report: “In an attempt to crack down on the use of foreign substances on baseballs for the upcoming season, Major League Baseball will inspect balls taken out of play, analyze spin rate data and increase monitoring of dugouts and clubhouses.” 

Click here to read the full article

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