Harper adjusting to seeing fewer strikes

Nats slugger still getting on base regularly, but his average has dipped in May

Harper adjusting to seeing fewer strikes

WASHINGTON -- About 40 minutes after Monday's 7-1 loss to the Mets, Bryce Harper walked into the Nationals' clubhouse still wearing his full uniform, with his batting gloves on and carrying his bat. Had he gone straight to hit in the batting cage after he went 0-for-4?

"No comment," he said.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Kelley quietly dominating in relief for Nats

Righty's 0.81 ERA over last calendar year is best mark in baseball

Kelley quietly dominating in relief for Nats

Over the last calendar year, who has been the best reliever in baseball? For the sake of entertainment, let's pretend you didn't already read the title to this article. Your first thoughts probably go to Wade Davis or Aroldis Chapman, or maybe Craig Kimbrel or Dellin Betances, or maybe Andrew Miller or Kenley Jansen.

Valid choices, each and every one, and yet none are the right answer. Over the last 365 days, baseball's most effective run-prevention reliever has been an oft-injured righty who was traded for Abraham Almonte in 2013 and Johnny Barbato in 2014. Welcome to the spotlight, Shawn Kelley.

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Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gio tagged for 7 runs as Nats fall to Mets

Gio tagged for 7 runs as Nats fall to Mets

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of a meeting between the same two pitchers last week, the Mets hammered left-hander Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals and rode a strong start from Bartolo Colon to a 7-1 victory at Nationals Park on Monday night. New York pulled to within a half-game of Washington in the National League East with the win.

The Mets unleashed a flurry of offense against Gonzalez that included seven runs on 10 hits, including three home runs. David Wright smashed a three-run homer as part of a five-run third inning and Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker hit back-to-back homers in the fifth.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

First 3-homer start for Gio since joining Nats

Strong all season, left-hander struggles against Mets

First 3-homer start for Gio since joining Nats

WASHINGTON -- Entering Monday's start, Gio Gonzalez had allowed only six earned runs in 23 innings during May. In the series opener against the Mets, the lefty allowed seven in a disappointing five-inning outing as the Nationals lost, 7-1.

Gonzalez's trouble began with one out in the third inning, when he hit leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson with a pitch. New York followed with five straight hits, including a David Wright three-run home run, plus a sac fly to cap the five-run rally. The Mets were aggressive early in the count in the third, collecting their five hits on a total of eight pitches as Gonzalez let his pitches sneak high in the strike zone.

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

We meet again: Stras, Harvey face off in DC

We meet again: Stras, Harvey face off in DC

Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg square off Tuesday night in a rematch of last week's showdown turned mismatch.

Strasburg and Harvey have much in common -- both are 27-year-old right-handers who faced and met sky-high expectations after overcoming Tommy John surgery -- but the two pitchers have gone opposite directions in 2016. Strasburg is second in the National League in wins (seven) while sporting a 2.80 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, while Harvey is tied for the league lead in losses (six), with a 5.77 ERA and a career-low strikeout rate.

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Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fedde among top prospect performers Monday

Rangers' No. 4 prospect makes strong Double-A debut, Marlins' No. 2 has first pro multi-homer game

Fedde among top prospect performers Monday

Luis Ortiz, baseball's No. 69 overall prospect, made a seamless transition to Double-A as he enjoyed a stellar debut for Double-A Frisco. The Rangers' No. 4 prospect limited San Antonio to just one run in six innings, striking out six batters against one walk in the RoughRiders' lopsided 11-1 win.

Monday's outing marked the third time in his last four starts that Ortiz matched his career high mark with six innings while allowing one or no earned runs. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.41 ERA through eight games (seven starts) with Frisco and Class A Advanced High Desert this year.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boone, DiPuglia to represent Nats at Draft

Boone, DiPuglia to represent Nats at Draft

Twenty-three former All-Stars. The winningest pitcher in postseason history. Three pitchers who tossed perfect games. A Most Valuable Player, a Rookie of the Year, a Hall of Fame manager and a Hall of Fame broadcaster.

They will be among team representatives on the floor at MLB Network's Studio 42 when the 2016 MLB Draft gets underway on June 9.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer quiets Marlins as Nats take series

Scherzer quiets Marlins as Nats take series

MIAMI -- When Max Scherzer is on his game, the Nationals are in capable hands. The ace once again was sharp, striking out eight over eight innings in an 8-2 win over Miami on Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.

Ben Revere had a breakout game with three hits, two RBIs, two stolen bases and two runs scored, setting the table for the Nationals to take two of three at Miami and claim a 7-6 season-series edge.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Revere stuffs stat sheet to spark Nationals

Revere stuffs stat sheet to spark Nationals

MIAMI -- As he struggled during the past month after being activated from the disabled list from a right oblique injury, Ben Revere heard the same message from manager Dusty Baker, the Nationals' coaching staff, numerous teammates and even general manager Mike Rizzo.

"'We know you can hit so we're not worried about it,'" Revere cited as the universal message after Sunday's 8-2 victory over the Marlins at Marlins Park. "Every single person in here really had my back, the struggle I was going through. It was kind of uplifting."

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer rounding into midseason form

Scherzer rounding into midseason form

MIAMI -- After another dominant outing to lead the Nationals to an 8-2 victory Sunday afternoon over the Marlins at Marlins Park, Max Scherzer appears to be settling into a groove. He struck out eight in eight innings and made one mistake, which Justin Bour smashed for a two-run homer.

In his last three starts, Scherzer has allowed six runs in 23 1/3 innings, with 38 strikeouts and three walks.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats' late rally is not enough to sink Marlins

Nats' late rally is not enough to sink Marlins

MIAMI -- Facing the the first-place Nationals has brought out the best in Marlins ace Jose Fernandez. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out nine in six innings, and backed by Justin Bour's two-run home run and Ichiro Suzuki's four-hits, Miami held on for a 3-2 win on Saturday night at Marlins Park.

"I think this team has a big heart, and I love the way that we play," Fernandez said. "I love the passion that we play. For me, that's all I can ask for."

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Double play dashes Nationals' hopes in 9th

Double play dashes Nationals' hopes in 9th

MIAMI -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker was as aggressive as he's been all season long, emptying out his bench to try to steal a victory from the Marlins and closer A.J. Ramos on Saturday night.

Down a run in the ninth, the Nats had the bases loaded with none out against Ramos, but Jayson Werth bounced into a crushing double play that helped the Marlins hang on for a 3-2 win.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bostick among top prospect performers Saturday

Cubs' prospect has career-high seven RBIs in win

Bostick among top prospect performers Saturday

Double-A Tennessee pulled off a dramatic comeback win Saturday night as they scored nine times in the seventh and eighth innings to defeat Biloxi, 10-9.

At the center of the Smokies' late-inning rallies was third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who went 4-for-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles and a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth en route to driving in a career-high seven runs.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Belisle set to begin injury rehab assignment

Belisle set to begin injury rehab assignment

MIAMI -- Nationals right-hander Matt Belisle will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Monday, although manager Dusty Baker said the location has not been determined.

Belisle has been on the disabled list since April 27, when he strained his right calf in a game against the Phillies. He threw his first bullpen session last week and is no longer feeling any pain from the injury.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Roark solves Marlins as Zim, Taylor HR in win

Roark solves Marlins as Zim, Taylor HR in win

MIAMI -- Six days after facing Justin Nicolino in Washington, the Nationals had a pretty good idea of what to expect on Friday night. So they came out swinging, and behind second-inning home runs from Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Taylor, the Nationals broke out to a four-run lead and never looked back in a 4-1 win over Miami at Marlins Park.

"I think he was missing over the plate. I think we just took advantage of it, put a four spot on him," Jayson Werth said. "That was the difference in the game. He's got good stuff."

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Aggressive approach creates four-run second

Aggressive approach creates four-run second

MIAMI -- The Nationals' team plane arrived in Miami after 3 a.m. on Friday after a rare getaway night game in New York, leaving manager Dusty Baker trying to determine how to get the best out of his team despite the quick turnaround and lack of sleep.

Baker's philosophy was to have the Nationals take light batting practice before the game in hopes of getting off to a quick start before fatigue set in. The Nationals did just that with a four-run second inning off Marlins left-hander Justin Nicolino that helped guide them to a 4-1 victory at Marlins Park.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Adjustment helps Roark slay nemesis Marlins

Adjustment helps Roark slay nemesis Marlins

MIAMI -- The Nationals spent the days leading up to right-hander Tanner Roark's Friday night start trying to answer why the Marlins had hit Roark harder than any other team this season. Their coaching staff and Roark wondered whether he had been tipping his pitches.

Watching video confirmed what they had suspected, and while Roark did not want to get into specifics, he said he did notice certain tendencies on certain pitches. So he made an adjustment, and it paid off with a strong start to lead the Nationals to a 4-1 victory at Marlins Park.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats rout Harvey, Mets to take series at Citi

Nats rout Harvey, Mets to take series at Citi

NEW YORK -- It was supposed to be power vs. power between Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey, but it turned out to be a one-sided affair as the Nationals pounded the Mets, 9-1, at Citi Field on Thursday night. The Nationals took two out of three games in the series between National League East rivals and remain in first place in the division, one game ahead of the Phillies.

"This means I would like to do the same thing in Miami. We are just starting this road trip, so we have to keep it rolling," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "We have some guys that are starting to swing the bat pretty good in the series."

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Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York and covered the Mets on Thursday.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Murphy haunts former club at old haunt

Second baseman has big series as Nationals take two of three from Mets

Murphy haunts former club at old haunt

NEW YORK -- After helping the Nationals pound the Mets, 9-1, on Thursday night at Citi Field, second baseman Daniel Murphy was like the returning king of New York in the visitors' clubhouse as he talked to the media.

Murphy, who was a postseason hero with the Mets last year, helped the Nationals take two out of three games in the series. He gave Washington the lead by hitting a two-run homer in the first inning off Matt Harvey and ended up going 4-for-11 (.364) with a homer and four RBIs in the series.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Young fan has surreal game of catch with Scherzer

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Young fan has surreal game of catch with Scherzer

Max Scherzer is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He won a Cy Young in 2013, he pitched two no-hitters last season and, most recently, he struck out 20 (!) batters in one game. Fans, in any ballpark, would be lucky to catch a glimpse of the right-hander or maybe get an autograph.

Well, before Wednesday's Mets-Nationals game, an 11-year-old Mets fan got to have a game of catch with him.

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Harper hitless no more against Mets' Harvey

Nationals slugger had been 0-for-21 off righty before third-inning single

Harper hitless no more against Mets' Harvey

NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey is Bryce Harper's nemesis no more.

The Nationals outfielder didn't have much else to prove at the Major League level before Thursday's 9-1 win against the Mets at Citi Field. Now there may truly be nothing left.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Murphy totally dekes Cespedes, can't help but smile

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Murphy totally dekes Cespedes, can't help but smile

Yoenis Cespedes, a very cool and good baseball player, is a hard person to make look bad on the field of play. But in the second inning of Thursday's Nationals-Mets game, second baseman Daniel Murphy totally faked out the Mets outfielder on a line drive single to right field -- keeping him from going first to third. And boy, did he enjoy his work.

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Nats take walks, back Gio to even set at Citi

Nats take walks, back Gio to even set at Citi

NEW YORK -- A day after Noah Syndergaard went right after Bryce Harper in a Mets win over the Nationals, Bartolo Colon mostly avoided him -- and paid the price. Seven combined walks for Harper and Jayson Werth played a significant role in the Nationals' 7-1 win over the Mets, who mustered little offense of their own against Gio Gonzalez.

Daniel Murphy's RBI single in the third inning and Anthony Rendon's two-run hit in the fifth both capped rallies in which Harper walked to move Werth into scoring position. After Colon departed, the Nationals scored additional runs on a Murphy sacrifice fly and -- fittingly -- a Danny Espinosa bases-loaded walk. Mets pitchers issued 11 free passes in total, hitting another two batters with pitches.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats know where they are, where they need to go

Baker pleased with first-place club at quarter mark, expecting offense to heat up with weather

Nats know where they are, where they need to go

NEW YORK -- The Nationals have reached the quarter point of the season after Wednesday's 7-1 victory over the Mets, and manager Dusty Baker said he is pleased with what he has seen from the team so far.

The Nats are in first place by a half-game over the surprising Phillies, with the Mets lurking 1 1/2 games back, and Baker believes Washington will get better once the weather starts getting warmer.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Higher plan: Werth responds to No. 2 spot

Moving up from No. 6, Nats OF goes 2-for-2, draws 3 walks, scores 3 runs

Higher plan: Werth responds to No. 2 spot

NEW YORK -- Before Wednesday's game, Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth found himself in a 26-for-124 (.210) slump. Manager Dusty Baker thought Werth would be better off moving up in the order, going from the sixth spot in the lineup to the second, where he could see more fastballs.

The plan worked in Wednesday's 7-1 victory over the Mets. Werth went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and three walks. Werth now has 16 three-plus-walk games in his career, his first since Sept. 16, 2014. By hitting second, Werth believes he is more involved in the game.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Murphy received warmly in return to Citi Field

Mets play video tribute for Nationals' 2B, who enjoyed two ovations from crowd

Murphy received warmly in return to Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy once called Citi Field home. For most of his seven years in the Big Apple, he was the Mets' everyday second baseman.

But when Murphy arrived at Citi Field on Tuesday afternoon, he found it strange going into the visitors' clubhouse. He had only been in there once, and that was a couple of years ago for a fantasy football draft held by Mets third baseman David Wright.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer's loss a microcosm of his season

Homers prove decisive, stain an otherwise dominating performance vs. Mets

Scherzer's loss a microcosm of his season

NEW YORK -- As manager Dusty Baker put it after the Nationals were blanked by the Mets, 2-0, on Tuesday night at Citi Field, the home run ball has become a "nemesis" for right-hander Max Scherzer, who was solid for 6 1/3 innings and struck out 10 batters.

Two of the three hits Scherzer allowed proved to be lethal. In the first inning, Curtis Granderson swung at Scherzer's first pitch and hit a home run over the right-field wall. Scherzer had never before served up a homer on the first pitch of a game.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.