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The Blue & Gray Press | July 26, 2017

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Washington Nationals off to hot start

Washington Nationals off to hot start

By CJ CUMMINGS

The second week of April is an exciting time for sports fans all over the world. This means that the baseball season is already in full swing. Right now the Washington Nationals are sitting in first place, though it is just a couple weeks into the season and anything can happen.

The season opener for the Nationals was an exciting one, as they pulled out some runs in the last couple innings which resulted in the game going into extra innings. Their new star and off-season acquisition, Daniel Murphy had a great debut as a Nat. He went 2-3 with a homerun and a go-ahead double in the 10th inning. Murphy who was acquired this offseason from the New York Mets, he was hoping to get a contract extension after having a breakout postseason, where he had half of all home runs in the postseason.

Murphy will help out still rising superstar and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper. Since Harper has been the only player that has been consistent in the Nationals’ lineup, adding in another All-Star will help add some stability to their line-up. Not only has Harper been consistently solid in the batting line-up but has also proven to be one of the best outfielders in baseball.

Their batting lineup may need to produce an abundant amount of runs since their starting pitching rotation is not as solid as last year. Although they have stars which include Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the remaining rotation can be considered just above average pitchers.

When these two are not pitching, the batting line-up may have to work harder in order to win. The relievers are not as well-known as the two All-Star starters but they have been getting the job done so far. As long as the relievers keep this up, the Nats should be in relatively good shape as for their rotation.

But one pitcher that has raised some questions over the past couple of games is Jonathan Papelbon. He is currently the closer and has had four save opportunities this season succeeding in all of them. But how he has finished the games are not as great as the score may tell you.

“I had Rod Beck that saved like 50-something in a row,” said manager Dusty Baker in an interview, whose first coaching job was with the San Francisco Giants where he had Rod Beck as his closer. “And he scared me to death on about 30 of them.

That closing position is a very tough job. If you do the job, it’s not a problem. But as soon as you blow one, people forget about the five or six that you saved. Everybody can’t close. You have to have a special mentality.” They have the capability and the skill to compete for the championship. As long as they keep this up, there is a good chance they will be playing for it all in October.

“The Nats so far have proven to have what it takes to compete with teams in the league. They have got a few key players in the off-season and are contenders for the championship,” said freshman Nationals fan Andrew Zimmerman.

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