Nationals RF Bryce Harper breaks NL voting record en route to starting spot in MLB All-Star Game

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by Amanda Comak

Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was announced Sunday night as a starter in the 2015 Major League All-Star Game. Harper earned his selection to the National League team by garnering 13,964,950 fan votes, the most votes of any player ever to appear on the National League ballot and third-most votes for any player in MLB this season.

GettyImages-472862308Harper, 22, entered Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants hitting .344 with a .470 on-base percentage and a Major League-best .719 slugging percentage. In 75 games this season, Harper has hit 25 home runs to go along with 19 doubles and one triple. He has walked 60 times in 319 plate appearances.

The Nationals’ right-fielder, who won back-to-back National League Player of the Week awards in May, as well as the National League Player of the Month Award for the same month, currently leads the Major Leagues in on-base percentage (.470), slugging percentage (.719) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.189). He ranks tied for second in the Major Leagues in home runs (25), third in walks (60) and fourth in RBI (60). His batting average (.344) ranks fourth, and his 57 runs scored slot in fifth.

With his 25th home run, hit on Saturday vs. the Giants, Harper became just the seventh player in Major League history, age 22 or younger, to hit 25 home runs in the season’s first 81 games. He joined four Hall of Fame players (Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews, Joe DiMaggio, Mel Ott) on that list, along with Alex Rodriguez. On May 6 vs. the Miami Marlins, Harper became the 10th-youngest player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a single game.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other players in Major League history have hit .340 or better with at least 25 home runs, 60 RBI and 60 walks through July 4th – Hall of Famers Frank Thomas (1994 and 2000) and Babe Ruth (1921, 1926-27, 1930).

While Harper’s home runs have drawn him significant praise, as well as placed him in some elite company, Harper’s .470 on-base percentage is more than .100 points higher than any of his previous career marks. Harper has reached base safely (including on errors) in 68 of the 75 games he’s played in this year, and hasn’t been held hitless in back-to-back games since May 4-5.

This will be Harper’s third career All-Star Game selection and his second career All-Star start. Harper, who previously attended the 2012 and 2013 All-Star Games (in Kansas City and New York-NL), started in center field for the National League team in the 2013 contest. Harper, the first three-time All-Star in Nationals history (2005-present), is also the first Nationals player to claim multiple fan-elected starting assignments. He is the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish the feat, joining Hall of Famers Gary Carter (1981-84) and Andre Dawson (1981-83), as well as Tim Raines (1982-83).

The rest of the 2015 Major League All-Star participants will be announced Monday night at 7 p.m. during the “Esurance All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN. The 86th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 14.

Max Scherzer named NL Pitcher of the Month for June

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by Amanda Comak

Following a month that featured his first career no-hitter and in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches in Major League history, Nationals right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for June on Thursday.

Washington NationalsScherzer, 30, is the first Nationals (2005-present) pitcher ever to earn the honor in back-to-back months, as well as the first Washington pitcher to take home the award twice in one season.

The Nationals’ right-hander was 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA over the course of the month, but after allowing four earned runs in each his first two June starts, Scherzer carried a perfect game into at least the sixth inning in all of his final three outings.

Scherzer threw the second no-hitter in Nationals history (2005-present) on June 20 vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park, and that feat only came after 8.2 perfect innings were interrupted when a slider hit pinch hitter Jose Tabata on the left elbow. That bit of history happened one start after Scherzer allowed just one hit and struck out 16 in a shutout over the Milwaukee Brewers on June 14.

Scherzer became the fifth pitcher in the Modern Era, and the first since Jim Tobin (Boston Braves, 1944), to allow one hit or fewer in back-to-back complete games (6/14 at MIL; 6/20 vs. PIT). All told, Scherzer faced 54 batters between hits allowed (7th inn. at MIL on 6/14 – 6th inn. at PHI on 6/26). Opponents were 0-for-52 in that stretch (BB, HBP) and Scherzer went 24.0 consecutive innings without surrendering a single run.

The month also included Scherzer’s 100th career victory, making him the third pitcher to notch that milestone while in a Nationals uniform. He joined Livan Hernandez (5/9/05 vs. ARI) and Jason Marquis (5/10/11 vs. ATL).

Scherzer is the first National League pitcher to take home back-to-back Pitcher of the Month awards this season, and the first since Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw did so in June and July, 2014. Houston’s Dallas Keuchel got the nod in the American League in April and May this year.

Since the award’s inception in 1968, 19 National League pitchers have secured back-to-back awards, including September of one year and April of the next, and just 17 have done it in the same season.

The only other pitcher in franchise history to win this award in back-to-back months was Jeff Fassero, who earned the distinction with the Montreal Expos in June and July of 1996.

This is the ninth time a Nationals player has been honored with a monthly award. Scherzer and Bryce Harper swept the awards in the month of May and they joined Chad Cordero (June, 2005), Stephen Strasburg (April, 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May, 2012), Jordan Zimmermann (July, 2012) and Jayson Werth (July 2013, July 2014) as honorees.

Nationals select contract of INF Emmanuel Burriss, place INF Anthony Rendon on 15-day DL

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals selected the contract of infielder Emmanuel Burriss from Triple-A Syracuse on Friday and placed infielder Anthony Rendon on the 15-day disabled list with a left quadriceps strain, retroactive to June 25. Outfielder Reed Johnson was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Burriss, a Washington, D.C. native and a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Northwest D.C., joins the Nationals for his first Major League assignment since 2012 (San Francisco).

The 30-year-old infielder is coming off one of his finest professional seasons, posting a .300 average, .377 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage in 116 games for Triple-A Syracuse in 2014. In 62 games with Syracuse this season, Burriss is hitting .278 (66-for-237) with eight doubles, five triples, three home runs, 25 walks, 10 stolen bases and 21 RBI.

A versatile infielder, Burriss has Major League experience at all four infield spots (183 games at second base, 62 games at shortstop, eight games at third base and two games at first base), and has appeared in four games in the outfield as well. Over the course of his Minor League career, Burriss has primarily played shortstop (470 games) and second base (146 games).

Over parts of five Major League seasons, all with the San Francisco Giants, Burriss is a career .243 hitter with 14 doubles, one triple and one home run.

Rendon, 25, returns to the disabled list for the second time this season. The Nationals’ dynamic infielder missed the first 52 games of the season as he worked through a left knee sprain as well as a left oblique strain. Rendon is hitting .290 (20-for-69) in 18 games this season with a .375 on-base percentage. He’s clubbed five doubles, walked nine times, driven in five runs and scored nine runs.

Nationals top prospects Lucas Giolito & Trea Turner selected for 2015 Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game

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by Kyle Brostowitz

Right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito and infielder Trea Turner have been selected to represent the Washington Nationals in the 2015 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will be played at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 12th at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Giolito, 20, is considered by many, including industry experts Baseball America and MLB.com, as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. He is the consensus top prospect in the Nationals’ organization and is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 4 prospect and by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect overall. Giolito will participate in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for the second consecutive season.

A first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Giolito is 2-4 with a 2.71 ERA (18 ER/43.2 IP) in eight starts for the Potomac Nationals of the Single-A Carolina League. He has piled up 57 strikeouts (seventh in the Carolina League) and has allowed 51 hits against just 12 walks this season.

Giolito was named the Washington Nationals 2014 Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 10-2 with an organizational-best 2.20 ERA in 20 starts for Single-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League. He led Nationals farmhands with 110 strikeouts and, following the season, was named the “Most Outstanding Pitcher” and the “Top Major League Prospect” in the South Atlantic League by MiLB.com.

Turner, 21, joined the Nationals organization on June 14, completing the Dec. 18, 2014 three-team trade in which Washington also acquired right-handed pitcher Joe Ross. In ten games since joining the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, Turner is 14-for-39 (.359) with four doubles, one triple, four RBI, four stolen bases and six runs scored.

He joined the Nationals after hitting .322 (73-for-227) with 13 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 35 RBI, 24 walks, 11 stolen bases and 31 runs scored in 58 games for San Diego’s Double-A affiliate, the San Antonio Missions. He posted a .385 on-base percentage, a .471 slugging percentage and an .856 OPS along the way. Turner’s .322 average ranked third and his .471 slugging percentage ranked tied for sixth in the Texas League at the time of the trade.

A first-round selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft (No. 13 overall), Turner entered the 2015 season rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Padres’ chain and the No. 65 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. The same publication cited Turner as having the “Best Strike-Zone Discipline,” and being the “Best Athlete” and “Best Defensive Infielder” in the San Diego Minor League system prior to the trade to Washington. He is currently ranked as the No. 51 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.

Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League Clubs, selected the 25 players currently on each team.

Year Name Team Position
2005 Frank Diaz World OF
2006 Salomon Manriquez World C
2007 Emiliano Fruto World RHP
Collin Balester USA RHP
2008 Shairon Martis World RHP
2009 Danny Espinosa USA SS
2010 Eury Perez World OF
Danny Espinosa USA INF
2011 Bryce Harper USA OF
Brad Peacock USA RHP
2012 Alex Meyer USA RHP
2013 A.J. Cole USA RHP
Taylor Jordan USA RHP
2014 Michael A. Taylor USA OF
Lucas Giolito USA RHP
2015 Lucas Giolito USA RHP
Trea Turner USA INF

Nationals reinstate RHP Stephen Strasburg, option RHP Joe Ross to Triple-A

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and optioned right-handed pitcher Joe Ross to Triple-A Syracuse. Strasburg will start for the Nationals on Tuesday night vs. Atlanta.

Strasburg returns to the Nationals after missing 21 games due to neck tightness. The right-hander, who tossed 5.0 innings in his lone rehab start, with Double-A Harrisburg vs. Richmond on June 17, allowed one earned run off four hits and six strikeouts while on rehab assignment.

Strasburg was 3-5 with a 6.55 ERA in 10 starts prior to landing on the disabled list on May 30. A career 46-35, Strasburg has posted a 3.25 ERA in 119 Major League starts.

Ross, 22, went 2-1 in three starts during the first Major League assignment of his career. The rookie right-hander followed up his MLB debut by pitching into the eighth inning in back-to-back starts. Over the course of his call-up, Ross posted a 2.66 ERA and an 11.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio (23 SO/2 BB).

Max Scherzer earns NL Player of the Week award on heels of no-hit performance

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by Kyle Brostowitz

Following his first career no-hitter on Saturday — and on the heels of 18.0 consecutive scoreless, one-hit frames — Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer earned the National League Player of the Week award on Monday. Major League Baseball made the announcement on MLB Network. 
 
ScherzerAwardIGScherzer did not allow a hit while striking out ten Pittsburgh Pirates en route to the second no-hitter in Nationals history (2005-present) and the fourth no-hitter in Washington D.C. baseball history. It was the second no-hitter in Major League Baseball this season. 
 
Scherzer was perfect through 8.2 innings before hitting Pirates’ pinch hitter Jose Tabata in the left elbow. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Major League Baseball no-hitter in which only one batter reached base, and did so on a hit-by-pitch, was thrown by Kevin Brown, June 10, 1997 at San Francisco.
 
Combining Saturday’s effort with his one-hit shutout on June 14 at Milwaukee, in which he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, Scherzer has allowed just three baserunners (hit, walk, hit-by-pitch) while striking out 26 batters over his last two starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scherzer is the fifth pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1900) and the first since Jim Tobin (Boston Braves, 1944) to allow one hit or fewer in back-to-back complete games. 
This is the second Player of the Week award of Scherzer’s career. He also earned Player of the Week honors on June 24, 2013 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
Scherzer, who took home NL Pitcher of the Month honors for May, joins Bryce Harper (May 11-17, 2015; May 18-24, 2015), Jordan Zimmermann (Sept. 22-28, 2014; June 2-8, 2014), Adam LaRoche (Sept. 1-7, 2014), Jayson Werth (June 30-July 6, 2014), Ryan Zimmerman (July 16-22, 2012; Aug. 15-21, 2011; July 30-Aug. 5, 2007), Stephen Strasburg (June 7-13, 2010), Josh Willingham (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009), Cristian Guzman (Aug. 25-31, 2008), and Nick Johnson (May 31-June 6, 2005) as honorees.

Nationals reinstate RHP Doug Fister, option RHP Taylor Hill

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by Amanda Comak

​The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Doug Fister on Thursday, and optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Hill to Triple-A Syracuse.

Fister, who will start Thursday night vs. Tampa Bay at Nationals Park, rejoins the Nationals after missing 29 games with right forearm tightness. The 31-year-old was 0-1 with a 0.93 ERA (1 ER/9.2 IP), no walks and 10 strikeouts in two rehab starts that spanned Triple-A and Double-A.

After leading the Nationals’ starting staff with 16 wins and a 2.41 ERA in 2014, Fister went 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in seven starts this season before being placed on the disabled list on May 15. Despite missing the past month, Fister’s 2.71 ERA since the 2014 All-Star break ranks eighth in the National League and his 10 wins in that time span are tied for 10th.

Hill, 26, posted a 3.75 ERA in six appearances (12.0 IP) out of the Nationals’ bullpen. Four of Hill’s six appearances were multi-inning outings.

Nationals acquire INF Trea Turner

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by Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals acquired infielder Trea Turner from the San Diego Padres on Sunday, completing the Dec. 18, 2014 three-team trade in which Washington acquired right-handed pitcher Joe Ross and a Player to be Named from the Padres. In exchange, the Nationals sent outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and Minor League left-handed pitcher Travis Ott to the Tampa Bay Rays. President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.

Turner, 21, joins the Nationals after hitting .322 (73-for-227) with 13 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 35 RBI, 24 walks, 11 stolen bases and 31 runs scored in 58 games for San Diego’s Double-A affiliate, the San Antonio Missions. He posted a .385 on-base percentage, a .471 slugging percentage and an .856 OPS along the way. His .322 average ranked third and his .471 slugging percentage tied for sixth in the Texas League at the time of the trade. Turner was a non-roster invitee to the Padres 2015 Major League Spring Training, appearing in seven games for San Diego.

“We’re happy to complete this trade and add an exceptional talent to our fold,” Rizzo said. “From the outset, this was a complex deal, but we thought it was one that would better our organization for the present as well as the long term. That’s always our goal. We look forward to getting Trea into our Minor League system.”

A first-round selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft (13th overall), Turner entered the 2015 season rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Padres’ chain and the No. 65 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. In 127 Minor League games, Turner has posted a .322 average, a .397 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage. He boasts advanced speed and base running ability. According to Baseball America, Turner had the “Best Strike-Zone Discipline,” and was the “Best Athlete” and “Best Defensive Infielder” in the San Diego Minor League system prior to the trade to Washington.

In his first professional season, Turner began the 2014 campaign with Short-Season Single-A Eugene before being promoted to Single-A Fort Wayne after 23 games. He was named the Padres’ Minor League Defensive Player of the Year, an Organizational All-Star by MLB.com and the No. 2 prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America after committing just four errors in 248 total chances (.984 fielding percentage) in 50 games at shortstop between the two levels. At the plate, in 69 games (19 as DH), he hit .323 (90-for-279) with 16 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 24 RBI, 35 walks, 23 stolen bases and 45 runs scored after joining the organization following the 2014 draft.

Turner attended North Carolina State University and is a native of Lake Worth, FL. Following his junior collegiate season, he was named first-team All-ACC, second-team All-American by Perfect Game and a third-team All-American by Baseball America. He led NCAA Division 1 with 55 stolen bases as a freshman in 2012 and was a key cog in North Carolina State’s journey to the 2013 College World Series.

Nationals recall OF Matt den Dekker, place 1B Ryan Zimmerman on DL

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by Amanda Comak

​The Washington Nationals recalled outfielder Matt den Dekker from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday and placed first baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with left foot plantar fasciitis.

den Dekker, 27, joins the Nationals for the third time this season. A member of the Nationals’ Opening Day roster, den Dekker appeared in four games for the Major League team, going 0-for-2 in two at-bats off the bench. He was also added last week as the 26th man for the nightcap in the Nationals’ doubleheader split with Toronto, but he did not appear in the game.

In 47 games for Triple-A Syracuse this season den Dekker has hit .234 (41-for-175) with seven doubles, two home runs, 20 RBI, 16 walks and eight stolen bases.

Acquired from the New York Mets on March 30 in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jerry Blevins, den Dekker is a career .236 hitter with a .322 on-base percentage. He’s hit 12 doubles, one home run and 11 stolen bases in 84 Major League games (212 at-bats).

Zimmerman, 30, is hitting .209 with a .265 on-base percentage and a .346 slugging percentage through 56 games this season. He’s clubbed 12 doubles, one triple, five home runs, and driven in 34 runs.

Nationals acquire RHP David Carpenter from New York Yankees

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by Amanda Comak

​The Washington Nationals added another veteran arm to their bullpen on Thursday, acquiring right-handed pitcher David Carpenter from the New York Yankees in exchange for Minor League infielder Tony Renda. Additionally, outfielder Nate McLouth was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Carpenter, 29, joins the Nationals in his fifth Major League season, coming to Washington after stops with Houston, Toronto, Atlanta and the New York Yankees. The veteran reliever has appeared in 210 games over the past four-plus seasons, working to an 11-11 record with a 3.73 ERA.

No stranger to the National League East, Carpenter was 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA in two seasons (2013, 2014; 121 games) with the Braves. During his time in Atlanta, Carpenter posted a 10.0 strikeouts-per-nine-innings mark, and over the course of his career (885 batters), Carpenter has worked to a 26.2 percent swing-and-miss rate.

Acquired by the Yankees from Atlanta this past January, along with Chasen Shreve, in exchange for left-hander Manny Banuelos, Carpenter appeared in 22 games for New York this season (18.2 IP) and worked to a 4.82 ERA. He was designated for assignment by the Yankees on June 3.

Renda, 24, was a second-round selection of the Nationals’ in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The right-handed-hitting second baseman entered the season as the organization’s No. 12 prospect, per Baseball America.

A 2014 Carolina League All-Star and Arizona Fall League Fall Star, as well as the inaugural recipient (2013) of the Nationals’ “Bob Boone Award”, Renda was hitting .267 with a .333 on-base percentage with Double-A Harrisburg at the time of the trade.

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