The Nationals are currently enjoying their best stretch of baseball in quite some time. Really, since the 2019 World Series campain. Crazy to think about with the expectations placed on this team entering this season.
However, it hasn't been as simple as just winning games for the Nationals, particularly this week. The Nationals, like any team, face a lot of adversity and they were tested this week. So far, they have responded well and there is more reason for optimism coming. Here's the latest on what is going on with the team, in the order it unfolded.
Nationals Promote Dylan Crews to AA Harrisburg
For those that have been following along with the seemingly daily breaking news around the franchise, this move seems to have happened at least two months ago. In reality, Dylan Crews has now spent just 5 days (4 games) with Harrisburg after skipping High A Wilmington completely.
Crews has gotten off to a bit of a slow start offensively in Harrisburg, but that is to be expected after skipping a level and not all that concerning. The really cool part of it all is that Harrisburg now boasts an outfield of Robert Hassell III, Dylan Crews and James Wood in Left Field, Center Field and Right Field respectively, which could very well be the Nationals starting outfield at some point in 2024 or 2025. Not to mention Brady House and Try Lipscomb, both of whom figure to be in the team's long term plans. Safe to say, Harrisburg has a very good lineup.
You would think all three outfielders finish out the season together in AA, in order to build more chemistry and whatnot, but there is a legitimate shot for them to make the team out of camp next year if the Nationals remain aggressive in their development.
Along with Crews, the Nationals also promoted Yohandy Morales and Andrew Pinckney from Single A Fredericksburg to High A Wilmington and Cristhian Vaquero and Elijah Green from the FCL to Single A Fredericksburg, so a lot of positive movement amongst the Nationals' top prospects.
Nationals Extend Manager Davey Martinez
As mentioned, the Nationals are playing exceptionally well as of late. And it is not just above the lowly expectations the team had at the start of the season; the Nationals have been one of the best teams in baseball for over a month with no signs of slowing down.
Naturally, in a contract year nonetheless, the Nationals rewarded manager Davey Martinez with a two year contract extension with a club option for a third year. A bit of a no-brainer move, even if you disagree with some of Martinez's philosophy or tactics. The results matter, and the results have been great recently.
Nationals Likely to Extend General Manager Mike Rizzo
You could likely file this one under the "no-brainer" category as well if you'd like, but there was legitimate chatter about if Rizzo and the Nationals would part ways as a mutual decision. Rizzo has been with the Nationals since 2006, serving as the GM since 2009, and has accomplished almost all their is to accomplish with the organization if he was thinking about a fresh start. For the Nationals and their youth movement, it might have been a time to go younger and prioritize player development more than in years past.
Nevertheless, it seems like a deal will get done. It has not yet, but the buzz on social media amongst the Nats' beat and MLB reporters is that Rizzo will return on a new contract.
There is no denying that Mike Rizzo has done wonders revamping the Nationals farm system, no matter how they went about it. Now the focus will shift on developing these prospects, but he has certainly handled the first part of the rebuild well. Here are my earlier thoughts on both extensions..
Nationals Injury News: Keibert Ruiz, Lane Thomas Banged Up, Stone Garrett Out For Season
The Nationals have been incredibly fortunate to remainly relatively healthy to this point of the season, but as we all now, the injury bug always hits at some point.
Stone Garrett fractured his left fibula Wednesday night against the Yankees attempting to make a catch off the right field wall. Garrett had to be placed in an air cast and carted off the field in what was a very emotional night for the team.
Not that injuries ever come at a good time, but Garrett in particular had really been enjoying a break-out stretch of baseball recently with an OPS over .900 in the past month or so while getting the chance to play everyday. He was recently transferred to the 60 injured list to make room on the 40 man roster and is out for the remainder of the season.
The trip to New York, while resulting in another series win, proved a bit costly, even beyond the injury to Stone Garrett. Both Catcher Keibert Ruiz and Lane Thomas took baseballs to the head in separate incidents, with Ruiz taking a foul ball off the mask and Thomas getting hit in the helmet by a pitch. Both players remained in the game, but Ruiz was scratched from the lineup on Thursday after reports of feeling light-headed. Ruiz also DH'd in the opening game against the Marlins as opposed to catching and is not in the lineup today.
According to Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, the Nationals have Catcher Drew Millas on standby in case Ruiz requires a trip to the injured list.
Thomas seems to be alright, but he did have a collision with Centerfielder Alex Call in last night's contest where Thomas ended up taking another shot to the head. It is something to monitor over the next couple days.
Nationals Pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Announce Retirement At Nats Park September 9th
This one hurts because of what he has meant to the franchise, but we all knew it was coming after the plethora of injuries and complications Strasburg has faced.
Strasburg hasn't really pitched at all since signed his, at the time, record breaking contract with the Nationals and even when he did, he clearly was not the same. He sold out to win a World Series and truly gave everything he had. September 9th will be an emotional day as the Nationals will bid farewell to a franchise legend.
Nationals Select The Contract Of Outfielder Jacob Young
After the injury to Stone Garrett and the Strasburg retirement news, the Nationals really needed a pick-me-up and this might just be what the doctor ordered.
Young has been enjoying a fantastic year as he rose through High A, AA and now through AAA all in 2023. Young is a speed threat that has developed a knack for getting on base over the past year and was likely the biggest riser throughout the Nationals system to this point. With the Nationals poised to bring up James Wood and Dylan Crews sometime in the next two seasons, they are giving their other deserving outfield prospects legitimate auditions in the outfield. The youth movement is real.