Washington Nationals News: Why 2016 feels better than 2015 for Dusty Baker’s Nats

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May 29, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) is congratulated by manager Dusty Baker (12) after the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) is congratulated by manager Dusty Baker (12) after the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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Today’s District Daily features stories on why things are better for the Washington Nationals under Dusty Baker and an update on injured reliever Matt Belisle.

Good evening DoD readers, and welcome to today’s District Daily. Get caught up on the latest Nats news and opinions with some great Washington Nationals articles from around the web below.

We start off today’s Daily with an interesting column from the Washington Post’s Jerry Brewer about why Nationals fans should believe in Dusty Baker and why the 2016 season feels much better than last year.

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As Brewer writes in his article, Baker’s personality and experience has helped create an atmosphere around the team that is far more comfortable and less tense than it was last season under Matt Williams.

Because of Baker’s leadership, and given the fact that the team has stayed healthy and productive this season, it’s easier to be optimistic about the Nationals this season than it was in 2015, despite the fact that the team is only doing slightly better this year.

Of course, as Brewer notes, it also helps that the team isn’t dealing with the sky-high expectations that burdened the Nationals all season long in 2015. Nevertheless, the Nationals still have the talent to compete for an NL East title and, ultimately, a World Series championship. Only time will tell if this year’s team can overcome the struggles of last year’s squad, or if 2016 will be yet another disappointing season in the nation’s capital.

Also in today’s Daily, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson provides on update on injured reliever Matt Belisle. As Ladson writes, Belisle has recovered from a calf strain that has left him on the disabled list for the last month. The right-hander is very close to rejoining the bullpen, and will make one more rehab appearance this Tuesday with Double-A Harrisburg.

Here’s what Belisle had to say about his recovery, via Ladson’s article:

"“Everything is good, I want to keep pitching,” Belisle said. “I’m doing great with the calf. I’m doing everything I can. The therapist and everybody are saying I’m good to go. I’m ready to rock.”"

Be sure to check out both articles below, they’re definitely worth a read. And as always, stay tuned to DoD for all your Washington Nationals needs.

Believe in Dusty Baker because he believes in the Nationals

(Jerry Brewer, Washington Post)

We’re past the initial rush of the Dusty Baker takeover. After a 14-4 start to a season of new leadership and newfound enjoyment, the Washington Nationals have had a losing record (16-17) over the past 33 games. After losing four times in a seven-game homestand, they have dipped below .600 for only the second time this season. Nevertheless, this is a baseball team without reason to fret.

We’re starting to see pitching that can’t always hoard zeroes, an offense with holes that might require outside help and a National League East division that is much tougher than a supposed two-team race. Nevertheless, it’s a lot easier this season to let the year develop without elevated stress levels. Read full article here.

Belisle set for final rehab outing before return

(Bill Ladson, MLB.com)

WASHINGTON — After pitching four innings and allowing two runs for Class A Advanced Potomac during a three-game rehab assignment, right-hander Matt Belislesaid he is ready to come off the disabled list.

The Nationals nonetheless will have Belisle pitch two innings for Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday in a final tuneup. Belisle has missed a month of action because of a right calf strain. Read full article here.

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