Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is a career .154 hitter (2-for-13) versus Giants right-hander Madison Bumgarner.
Insight: Since getting hitting advice from former teammate and friend Chipper Jones, LaRoche is batting .306 over a 21-game span, well above his season average of .219. This matchup should be avoided, however, despite his improved hitting.
Description: Nationals 3B prospect Anthony Rendon played second base at Double-A Harrisburg on Monday night and could get some additional time at the position.
Insight: Playing second base ahead of Danny Espinosa would be an easier road to the majors than trying to beat out Ryan Zimmerman, but more than likely Rendon is just getting work so he can be a utility infielder. Rendon is the 28th overall prospect on MLB.com's top 100 list and the 22-year-old is batting .346 at Harrisburg.
Description: Washington right fielder Jayson Werth was hoping to be activated from the disabled list this Friday but now it looks like he'll need another two weeks to recover from his strained hamstring.
Insight: Amanda Comak from the Washington Times was the first to report the setback. Roger Bernadina (.132, 0 HR, 1 RBI) and Bryce Harper (.297, 11 HR, 22 RBI) will continue to see time in right with Steve Lombardozzi (.233, 0 HR, 6 RBI) making the occasional start in left field.
Description: Washington lefty Ross Detwiler isn't making his scheduled start Monday against the Giants but he's hoping he'll be ready to pitch Sunday versus the Phillies. SOURCE: Amanda Comak, Washington Times
Insight: Detwiler has been bothered by a sore back. The 27-year-old has lost four out of his last five starts (4.21 ERA over that span).
Description: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will miss Sunday's game due to a bruised left knee, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Harper has been dealing with soreness all over since colliding with the outfield wall on Monday. He has gone 2-for-9 with a solo homer in his three appearances since the accident. However, he has passed concussion tests and the MRI on his bruised abdomen came back clean.
Description: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is not in Saturday's lineup and likely will miss Sunday's game as well due to a bruised left knee, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Harper has been dealing with soreness all over since colliding with the outfield wall on Monday. He has gone 2-for-9 with a solo homer in his three appearances since the accident. However, he has passed concussion tests and the MRI on his bruised abdomen came back clean.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is hitting .339 with four homers and 11 RBI since April 29.
Insight: April 29 was the day LaRoche and former teammate and friend Chipper Jones sat down to talk about his hitting. Perhaps the future Hall of Fame third baseman has found his next job - hitting coach.
Description: Washington lefty Ross Detwiler left his start Wednesday with lower back spasms and is questionable to take his next turn, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Detwiler only threw three innings Wednesday before exiting. He has a 2.76 ERA despite allowing 56 hits in 45 2/3 innings. Chris Young has allowed 41 hits and 23 earned runs in 26 innings with Triple-A Syracuse this season, so even if he does take Detwiler's next start, he shouldn't be considered by fantasy owners.
Description: Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (nausea, shoulder, knee, rib cage) said after pinch-hitting in the ninth inning Wednesday that he was feeling "terrible," according to the Washington Post.
Insight: Harper collided with an outfield wall Monday against the Dodgers and suffered multiple injuries. His left side and abdomen are giving him the most issues, while his knee and shoulder soreness has subsided. He's questionable for Thursday's game, but it sounds like he needs another day off.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is hitting .390 with a homer, five RBI and seven walks during his 12-game hitting streak.
Insight: LaRoche's bat has awakened from its usual April slumber, though he still has a ways to go. He has struck out eight times in his last 16 at-bats and just snapped a 22-game homerless streak Wednesday night.
Description: Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (nausea, shoulder, knee, rib cage) will probably need one more day before he returns to action, manager Davey Johnson said. SOURCE: Amanda Comak, Washington Times
Insight: Harper collided with an outfield wall Monday against the Dodgers and suffered multiple injuries. He took batting practice and did some running Wednesday and should be ready to go Friday after sitting out Thursday.
Description: Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper is not in the starting lineup Tuesday, as expected. SOURCE: Amanda Comak, Washington Times
Insight: Harper suffered a bruised shoulder and knee and a cut under his chin after a collision with the right field wall at Dodger Stadium Monday night. He avoided major injury, but he'll sit out a game or two.
Description: Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper, who left Monday's game with the Dodgers after running into the fence in right field, is doubtful for Tuesday's game against the LA Dodgers.
Insight: X-rays were negative on his left shoulder and left knee, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. He also suffered a cut, but long-term there should be no problems from this collision with the wall. Consider him day-to-day.
Description: Threes were wild for Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond Friday against the Cubs. He had three hits, drove in three and scored three runs.
Insight: Desmond hit his fifth homer of the season in the fourth inning off Jeff Samardzija and also had a double. He's hitting .287 with five homers and four steals and is one of the top shortstops in fantasy.
Description: Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper is not in the lineup Friday after having a minor procedure to remove an ingrown toenail that had been bothering him. SOURCE: James Wagner, Washington Post
Insight: Harper blasted his 10th homer of the season Thursday against the Tigers. Manager Davey Johnson said he's likely to miss just one game.
Description: Washington Nationals minor league second baseman Jeff Kobernus is batting .371 this season and showing solid base running skills with 14 SB over the team's first 31 games.
Insight: Kobernus has hit above .300 over the past two plus seasons, but his path to the majors is blocked by Ian Desmond and he isn't likely to help fantasy owners any time soon unless there is an injury or a trade.
Description: Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper, who slammed his tenth home run of the season Wednesday in a win against the Tigers, is not in Friday's starting lineup.
Insight: No injury that we are aware of, just a day of rest. It took Harper 85 games to reach double-digit homers in 2012. This season, it only took him 32 games. Harper (.302) looks like a lock for the NL All-Star team, but you will have to live without him on Friday.
Description: Washington right fielder Jayson Werth is headed for an MRI on his injured hamstring.
Insight: He's been battling muscle spasms for the last week and at this point it wouldn't be surprising if he winds up on the DL. Werth's injury should open up more playing time for backup outfielder Roger Bernadina, though we wouldn't recommend him in fantasy (just one hit in his last 25 at bats).
Description: Nats righthy Jordan Zimmermann made his Cy Young case a little bit stronger Wednesday with a win over Detroit (7 IP, ER, 2 BB, 7 K's).
Insight: He hasn't given up more than three runs in any start this season and is now 3-0 with a 0.38 ERA in his last three apperances. Only Matt Harvey (0.69) and Hisashi Iwakuma (0.76) have posted lower WHIPs than Zimmermann (0.82) in 2013.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is out of the lineup Wednesday against Detroit.
Insight: Werth hasn't played since aggravating his hamstring injury last Thursday, and he wasn't in the lineup Tuesday prior to the rainout. Nats manager Davey Johnson may just be keeping Werth out due to rainy weather in the forecast Wednesday. Werth's poor history against Wednesday's scheduled starter Anibal Sanchez -- 2-for-30, 19 K -- could have something to do with it as well.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was not in Tuesday's lineup against Detroit prior to the rainout. SOURCE: Mark Zuckerman, CSNWashington.com
Insight: Werth is a career .167 hitter with 19 strikeouts in 30 at-bats versus Detroit's scheduled starter on Tuesday, Anibal Sanchez, so there was no need to rush him back into the lineup. He hasn't played since aggravating the injury last Thursday, but we could see him back Wednesday.
Description: Washington left fielder Bryce Harper got tossed Sunday for arguing a check swing in the first inning.
Insight: Harper (.312, 9 HR, 18 RBI) is an emotional player with a tendency to lose his temper every now and then. Roger Bernadina is filling in for him in left field right now. We'd expect Harper to be back in the lineup Tuesday versus Detroit.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring) went 1-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored Saturday against the Pirates.
Insight: Zimmerman put his hamstring to the test Saturday, legging out a triple and scoring from second on a single and third twice on sacrifice flies. The third baseman returned to action Friday after spending two weeks on the DL with a left hamstring strain.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg (forearm) made it through seven innings and 95 pitches Saturday against the Pirates, but he allowed two homers and four earned runs in a no decision.
Insight: Strasburg dealt with forearm tightness after Monday's start versus the Braves, so this outing should provide some relief for fantasy owners in regards to his health. However, the right-hander is 1-4 with a 3.45 ERA and an 8.9 K/9, which is below expectations.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth likely will miss the entire series against Pittsburgh with a hamstring injury, according to Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com.
Insight: Werth has been dealing with hamstring and ankle injuries and had to leave Thursday's game, which was his first action since April 29. However, the team still doesn't view it as a DL situation.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring) has been activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Insight: Zimmerman played just one rehab game due to a rainout Tuesday, but the team evidently thought that was enough. Anthony Rendon, who went 6-for-25 (.240) with five walks and seven strikeouts in his first eight major league games, was sent down in a corresponding move.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth left Thursday's game with hamstring tightness, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
Insight: Werth has been dealing with hamstring and ankle injuries and was playing his first game Thursday since April 29, but he was pinch-hit for in the fifth inning. Manager Davey Johnson says Werth will miss a few days but doesn't need to go on the disabled list.
Description: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper (left side contusion) went 0-for-4 with a walk Thursday against Atlanta.
Insight: Harper suffered a left side injury Tuesday when crashing into the outfield wall and aggravated it on a check swing Wednesday, and while X-rays came back negative, he was expected to get at least one game off. However, he played a full game Thursday.
Description: Nationals starter Dan Haren had his best start of the season Thursday against Atlanta, going eight innings and allowing four hits and one earned run and striking out four.
Insight: Haren allowed 38 hits and 17 earned runs in 24 1/3 innings over his first five starts this season, and he's still a risky play until he provides some consistency. Two quality starts in a row is a nice place to start.
Description: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is tentatively listed as the starting left fielder and No. 3 hitter Thursday night, according to beat writer Mark Zuckerman.
Insight: Harper suffered a contusion on his left side when he crashed into the outfield wall Tuesday, and he aggravated the injury on a check swing Wednesday night. X-rays came back negative, but he wasn't expected to play Thursday and there's always a chance he'll be scratched if he feels soreness during BP.
Description: Nats right fielder Jayson Werth (hamstring, ankle) is back in the lineup Thursday, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
Insight: Werth hasn't played since fouling a ball off his left ankle on April 29. He also has been dealing with hamstring soreness, but is listed as the starting right fielder and No. 4 hitter Thursday.
Description: The X-rays on Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper's side came back negative, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Harper suffered a contusion on his left side when he crashed into the outfield wall Tuesday, and he aggravated the injury on a check swing Wednesday night. He's doubtful to play Thursday, but it doesn't look like he'll be out of the lineup for long.
Description: It doesn't look like Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper will be available for Thursday night's series finale against the Braves. SOURCE: Nats Insider
Insight: Harper injured his side Wednesday in the sixth inning and was replaced by Roger Bernadina. We're guessing Bernadina will get the nod again on Thursday. Harper could be back in the lineup Friday versus the Pirates.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman expects to be activated from the disabled list Friday against Pittsburgh. SOURCE: Adam Kilgore, Washington Post
Insight: Zimmerman went 0-for-3 Wednesday in a rehab game with Single-A Potomac. He's been out since mid-April because of a hamstring strain. Top prospect Anthony Rendon could be optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Zimmerman on the big league roster.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth (hamstring) is sitting out of Tuesday's game, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
Insight: Werth fouled a ball off his ankle Monday night and also is dealing with hamstring/groin tightness. That's unfortunate since he is a career .385 hitter (15-for-39) with a 1.160 OPS when facing Braves right-hander Tim Hudson.
Description: Stephen Strasburg owners can breath a sigh of relief after general manager Mike Rizzo announced there was no structural problem with the pitcher's arm. He's not expected to miss any starts.
Insight: Strasburg was dealing with forearm tightness after Monday's no decision versus the Braves.. The right-hander has a 3.13 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and a 36/12 K/BB in 37 1/3 innings, and he's 1-4.
Description: Nationals manager Davey Johnson says that Stephen Strasburg has tightness in his forearm, according to Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com. UPDATE: Strasburg says he won't miss a start, reports Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
Insight: The announcement that Strasburg was dealing with forearm tightness came after he gave up six hits and walked four in six innings Monday against the Braves in a no decision. The right-hander has a 3.13 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and a 36/12 K/BB in 37 1/3 innings, and he's 1-4.
Description: Nats righthander Jordan Zimmermann hurled a one-hitter Friday against Cincinnati.
Insight: Friday was the third time in 86 starts that Zimmermann has tossed a complete game and the first time he's delivered a complete game shutout. His 2.00 ERA through five starts is second-best among Washington starting pitchers.
Description: Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (8 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 7 K's, BB) notched his second win of the season Thursday against Cincinnati.
Insight: The only hit he gave up was a solo homer to Joey Votto in the fourth inning. Thursday marked Gonzalez's longest outing of the season. The seven strikeouts he produced also matched a season-high.
Description: Washington manager Davey Johnson said Thursday that third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring) is only 2-3 days behind catcher Wilson Ramos' schedule. SOURCE: Mark Zuckerman, CSNWashington.com
Insight: Ramos will start his rehab assignment Friday and could return to action Monday. Zimmerman hasn't played since April 17 so he is eligible to return late next week. Steve Lombardozzi and Anthony Rendon will handle third base duties while Zimmerman is out, with Rendon likely going back to the minors when Zimmerman returns.
Description: Washington manager Davey Johnson said Wednesday that Steve Lombardozzi will begin to play regularly. He'll start at third base Thursday. SOURCE: Bill Ladson, MLB.com
Insight: Anthony Rendon is 2-for-15 with five strikeouts in his first four major league games and Lombardozzi is batting .345 with three doubles in 29 at-bats. We also could see Lombardozzi get some starts at second base with Danny Espinosa swinging a cold stick.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche had a day off Wednesday and he probably wishes he had another one Thursday with Bronson Arroyo on the hill for the Reds. LaRoche is 5-for-29 (.172) against Arroyo in his career.
Insight: LaRoche is experiencing his usual April slump, hitting .169 with 23 strikeouts. Hopefully it won't carry into May.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg held St. Louis to three runs on five hits in seven innings, walked one and struck out seven Wednesday afternoon, but he was handed his fourth loss of the year.
Insight: Strasburg (1-4, 3.16 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) won on Opening Day but he has lost four straight starts. The Nationals have scored a combined nine runs in the five games Strasburg has started this season.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez walked four and gave up five hits and five runs in four innings Saturday against the Mets.
Insight: Gonzalez gave up seven runs and seven hits in five innings his last time out. The left-hander has been terrible with men on base so far, posting a 61.1% strand rate. His career rate is 73.9 percent, so we're sure he'll figure it out.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche went deep with two men on Saturday against the Mets.
Insight: LaRoche (.191, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs) has struggled in April throughout his career save 2012, and he owns a .246 average in May and a .252 average in June, so it could be a frustrating few months for fantasy owners. However, he has a .293 average and .886 OPS in 520 games after the All-Star break in his career.
Description: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring) has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. SOURCE: Adam Kilgore
Insight: Zimmerman has missed an average of 33 games over the last three seasons, and he'll miss at least two weeks with his current injury. Prospect Anthony Rendon has been called up and will start right away, according to manager Davey Johnson. Rendon should be added in most leagues.
Description: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will have an MRI on his injured hamstring to determine whether the oft-injured slugger will need another trip to the DL.
Insight: Zimmerman is hitting for a low average (.226 in 53 at bats), but he's also on pace for over 100 RBI. He's missed an average of 33 games a year over the past three seasons. Chad Tracy (.158, 0 HR, 1 RBI) would likely get the start in Zimmerman's place.
Description: Washington starter Stephen Strasburg fell to 1-3 after Friday's loss to the Mets.
Insight: Strasburg allowed four runs in six innings, though only two of those runs were earned. He looked rattled in the sixth after allowing home runs to Ike Davis and Lucas Duda over a span of just three at bats. Though Strasburg still sports an impressive 2.96 ERA, he definitely doesn't look as sharp as he did a year ago.
Description: Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki had a triple, a homer and a sac fly Wednesday against the Marlins.
Insight: Suzuki will be the starting backstop while Wilson Ramos is sidelined by a hamstring strain. He has six extra-base hits (two HR) and a .360 average in 25 at-bats after hitting .267 with five homers in 146 at-bats with Washington last year.
Description: Nats manager Davey Johnson says that second baseman Danny Espinosa has a 50/50 shot at returning to the lineup Friday versus the Mets. He's been sitting out with a sore wrist. SOURCE: Mark Zuckerman, Comcast Sports Washington
Insight: Wednesday will mark Espinosa's third consecutive absence. Espinosa isn't off to a very good start (.175, 1 HR, 3 RBI in 12 games) but he's capable of hitting home runs (38 long balls the last two seasons) and could be a nice sleeper in fantasy leagues.
Description: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is back in the lineup Wednesday after missing Tuesday's game due to the flu.
Insight: Harper will face Ricky Nolasco, against whom he is 6-for-17 with two home runs, both of which came on Opening Day this season. He's been in a bit of a slump, going hitless in his last 13 at-bats, to lower his average to .320.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa (hand) missed Tuesday's game and isn't expected to play Wednesday though there is an outside chance his bruised wrist could allow him to play.
Insight: Espinosa was hit on the right wrist Sunday and has been dealing with soreness. Even if he's healthy enough to go, he'll likely be held out as the matchup with Miami pitcher Ricky Nolasco is extremely unfavorable. Espinosa is hitless in 17 career at-bats against the Marlins right-hander.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is just 4-for-31 over his career against Marlins' right-hander Ricky Nolasco with 10 strikeouts.
Insight: Werth is off to a solid start, batting .309 with three home runs and eight RBIs this season, despite the fact that he admits his left wrist is not fully healed. This is not a great matchup for the bearded outfielder.
Description: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper missed Tuesday's game while dealing with flu-like symptoms, but if he plays Wednesday he has a favorable matchup.
Insight: Harper is 6-for-17 with two home runs against Miami starter Ricky Nolasco. He's been in a bit of a slump, going hitless in his last 13 at-bats, to lower his average to .320. Check back later to see if Harper is healthy enough to play on Wednesday night.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa (hand) missed Tuesday's game and isn't expected to play Wednesday either. SOURCE: Washington Post
Insight: Espinosa was hit on the right wrist Sunday and has been dealing with soreness. "He was in there getting treatment trying to keep the swelling down in his right wrist or forearm and then he was trying to get a lot of the blood out of there because it bled quite a bit," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I know he was shooting, trying to be ready to play [Wednesday]. But I think more likely, with the day off [Thursday], maybe Friday."
Description: Jordan Zimmermann went all nine innings Monday in a win over the Marlins.
Insight: The Washington ace allowed three runs on six hits in the 103-pitch outing. He fanned six while walking just one. Zimmermann (2.45 ERA) is tied for the league-lead with three victories in his first three starts.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is not in the lineup for Monday's game.
Insight: No injury, LaRoche is just getting a day off. Too bad as he's 3-for-9 with a homer and a 1.111 OPS against Miami starter Wade LeBlanc. LaRoche is hitless in his last two games and his average is down to .147.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa left Sunday's game with a sore right hand, which X-rays proved to be negative, but will miss Monday's game.
Insight: He came into Sunday's game with a .175 batting average through 11 games with one home run and three RBI. He's got a lot of fantasy value for a second baseman with 38 homers and 37 steals over the past two seasons.
Description: Danny Espinosa went deep for the first time this season Saturday against Tim Hudson. The Nationals second baseman will have a much harder time leaving the ballpark on Sunday with Paul Maholm on the hill for Atlanta.
Insight: Espinosa's history with Maholm includes just one hit in 10 previous at bats. Don't expect Espinosa to improve upon his .175 season batting average Sunday with Maholm going for the Tomahawks.
Description: Chase Hughes from Comcast Washington is reporting that Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos will go on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.
Insight: It's not considered a serious injury and the Nats should have Ramos back as soon as he's eligible to return in 15 days. Kurt Suzuki (.231, 1 HR, 3 RBI) will probably see most of the action behind the plate while Ramos is sidelined.
Description: Nationals' centerfielder Denard Span is a career .486 hitter (17-for-35) against White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd.
Insight: Span is batting .304 in the early going and hit a respectable .283 in 128 games for the Twins in 2012. He is capable of stealing 20-25 bases. Leading off for Washington could help raise his runs production close to triple digits.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (tightness in back) is probable for Tuesday's game against the Chicago White Sox.
Insight: LaRoche was hitless through the first four games and missed the last two with the back injury, but he's always hit Jake Peavy well, owning a .364 career batting average with a pair of homers and five RBI in 11 at-bats.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth has trouble putting the bat on the ball when facing White Sox starter Jake Peavy. In 13 at-bats, he's batting .154 with seven strikeouts.
Insight: Werth is 6-for-25 (.240) in six games this season, but he has two homers and four runs. He should be productive all season as the No. 2 hitter in front of Bryce Harper, but Tuesday isn't a good matchup.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (back) will miss Sunday's game.
Insight: LaRoche is hitless through the first four games and has missed the last two. He wouldn't have been a good play anyway considering his career-long struggles in April and 2-for-13 (6 Ks) history against Reds starter Johnny Cueto.
Description: Washington lefty Ross Detwiler didn't factor in the decision Saturday due to Rafael Soriano's blown save but he did hold the Reds to one unearned run on six hits in six innings in his 2013 debut.
Insight: Detwiler had a 3.40 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 164 1/3 innings last season. There could be some regression since he had a .263 BABIP and doesn't strike many people out, but he should still be a decent fantasy starter, even in mixed leagues.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is 0-for-10 over his first three games this season.
Insight: LaRoche hit .329 with a .964 OPS and four homers last April but he is a notorious early-season slumper. He has a career average of .220 in April and .246 in May but hits .293 with an .886 OPS after the All-Star break.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was hitless in his first two games but he collected two hits and a three-run homer Thursday against Miami.
Insight: After breaking his wrist and missing several months last season, Werth returned and posted a strong average and on-base percentage but did not display much power. His HR/FB was just 5.3 percent, but he has posted a career rate of 14.4 percent and likely will return to that neighborhood this season. Whether he can hit .300 again is another story since he relied on a .356 BABIP.
Description: Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg went seven shutout innings (80 pitches), giving up three hits and striking out three to earn his first victory of the season.
Insight: While we're officially living in the "Post Innings Limit Strasburg Era." that doesn't mean he's going to go much deeper than seven innings per game. With the strength of the Washington bullpen (Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Rafael Soriano) he's going to need to get his strikeouts early in games.
Description: Washington center fielder Bryce Harper has started off the season as hot as he was in spring training.
Insight: Harper finished the exhibition season with nine hits in a row to bring his average to .476 and started the season with home runs in his first two at-bats. He's looking like he's going to be a top-five player this season.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is just a .143 lifetime hitter (4-for-28) off of Miami starter Ricky Nolasco with one homer and nine strikeouts.
Insight: Werth hit for a high average last season, batting .300, but hit just five homers, in 300 at-bats. Long-term, we're concerned that the wrist he broke last April is still giving him problems and effecting his power stroke.
Description: Washington center fielder Bryce Harper was scratched from Saturday's lineup with a swollen left thumb but he will be back in action Sunday, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Harper is still just 20 years old and won't turn 21 until October. He is expected to bat third in Washington's order and should be in for a monster sophomore season. He's batting .400 with three homers this spring.
Description: Washington has signed reliever J.C. Romero to a minor league contract.
Insight: Even if he makes it to the big club, Romero will have no fantasy value with the Nationals who already have Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard with the ability to close out games. This just gives the Washington bullpen more depth.
Description: Nationals reliever Rafael Soriano will return to the mound on Saturday after having root canal, according to Nats writer Mark Zuckerman.
Insight: Soriano signed a two-year, big money contract with Washington this offseason after saving 42 games with the Yankees last year. He is expected to close for Washington and has great upside for a team that could win 95-100 games, but beware that if he stumbles the Nats have other talented options in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.
Description: The Nationals have optioned Anthony Rendon to Double-A Harrisburg, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com. He batted .375 with four homers this spring.
Insight: Rendon is the 28th overall prospect on MLB.com's top 100 list after hitting .233 with six homers and an .851 OPS in 43 minor league games last season, but his path to the big leagues in blocked by Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals will let the 22-year-old get more seasoning in the minors this season.
Description: Washington center fielder Bryce Harper is ripping the ball this spring to the tune of a .444 average and three homers in 36 at-bats.
Insight: Harper is still just 20 years old and won't turn 21 until October. He is expected to bat third in Washington's order and should be in for a monster sophomore season. The outfielder has 30/30 potential this year.
Description: The Washington Post reports that Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann is dealing with a "dead arm."
Insight: Zimmermann has gotten off to a slow start this spring, posting an ERA of 11.00 in his first three appearances. This kind of fatigue isn't unusual for pitchers this time of year. Zimmermann should be fine by the time the regular season starts.
Description: Nationals reliever Christian Garcia has a partial tendon tear in his forearm and will need a week of rest, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Garcia got into 13 September games last season and was very good with a 2.13 ERA, 0.789 WHIP and 15 K's in 12.2 IP, but doesn't have a clear role for 2013 that will get him enough work to be of value to fantasy owners. He's been a closer in the minors, but the Nats have Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard at the end of their bullpen.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg induced six strikeouts in three innings of work Thursday against the Mets.
Insight: The Mets tagged Strasburg for one run on three hits. Strasburg (15-6, 3.16 ERA in 2012) used his full arsenal, mixing in fastballs, changeups and even a few breaking balls. Now that he isn't pitching with an innings restriction, sky's the limit for the talented 24-year-old.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez announced Friday that the blood and urine tests he took two days after he was linked to alleged PED distributor Anthony Bosch have come back clean. SOURCE: MLB.com
Insight: Gonzalez was named in Biogenesis clinic documents along with other players but multiple sources have cleared Gonzalez' name from buying banned substances from Bosch. Fantasy owners can confidently draft the 21-game winner knowing this situation is behind him.
Description: The Nationals have signed right-hander Chris Young to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Insight: The oft-injured Young threw 115 innings with the Mets in 2012, his most since 2007, and wet 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. He might be able to latch on with Washington in John Lannan's old role as No. 6 starter.
Description: According to two sources familiar with Anthony Bosch's operation at the Biogenesis of America clinic, Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez did not receive banned substances from Bosch of the clinic, ESPN reports.
Insight: Gonzalez was named in Biogenesis documents along with other players but the two sources said that he is the only player of the 25 who have been named thus far who did not receive PEDs.
Description: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery, will DH early in the spring, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. SOURCE: Mark Zuckerman, CSNWashington.com
Insight: The 28-year-old hit .282 last year with 25 HR and 95 RBI in 145 games. He plays at an All-Star level, but injuries are a concern when drafting him. He missed 56 games in 2008, 61 games in 2011 and has only played in more than 145 games once in the last five seasons. Zimmerman said he expects to be ready for Opening Day.
Description: Washington catcher Wilson Ramos is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season, according to manager Davey Johnson.
Insight: Ramos had surgery on his meniscus and ACL last season. The Nationals acquired Kurt Suzuki in case Ramos is not ready and they will likely share the job this season, hurting the fantasy value of both backstops.
Description: The Yankees will scout Chien-Ming Wang during the World Baseball Classic. Wang, who pitched for New York for five seasons, will play for Taiwan in the WBC. SOURCE: New York Post
Insight: Wang served as New York's ace in 2006 and 2007 and won 19 games in each season, but he hasn't been healthy since 2008, when he tore a ligament in his foot running the bases. Since then he has dealt with numerous shoulder injuries.
Description: The Nationals agreed to a one-year, $5.2 million contract with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann to avoid arbitration.
Insight: Zimmermann has posted a 3.05 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over the last two seasons and went 12-8 in 2012. However, he faded down the stretch with a 4.40 ERA over the final two months and gave up five earned in three innings in his only playoff start. Look for Washington to finally turn him loose in 2013 after keeping his innings under 200 the last two seasons.
Description: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in late October, told Adam Kilgore at the Washington Post he expects to be ready by Opening Day.
Insight: The 28-year-old hit .282 last year with 25 HR and 95 RBI in 145 games. He plays at an All-Star level, but injuries are a concern when drafting him. He missed 56 games in 2008, 61 games in 2011 and has only played in more than 145 games once in the last five seasons. He's a high-risk third-base option.
Description: Nationals reliever Rafael Soriano hasn't reported to Nationals Camp due to a work visa issue, his agent Scott Boras said. SOURCE: Jon Morosi, FOXSports.com
Insight: Soriano signed a two-year, $28 million contract with Washington last month after saving 42 games with the Yankees last season. He is expected to close for Washington and has great upside for a team that could win 95-100 games. Nats pitchers saved 51 games last season, fourth-most in the MLB.
Description: On Thursday, Washington catcher Wilson Ramos caught his first bullpen session since his injury. He said his knee felt a little weak but close to 90 percent. SOURCE: Amanda Comak, Washington Times
Insight: Ramos had surgery on his meniscus and ACL last season. Nationals manger Davey Johnson said back in December that Kurt Suzuki would open the 2013 season as the starting backstop, but Ramos should get his fair share of starts. Both players will have middling fantasy value barring an injury.
Description: Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez is suffering from a sore elbow, according to manager Davey Johnson.
Insight: Not good for a guy who had season-ending shoulder surgery last August. Rodriguez started off 2012 as the Nationals closer saving nine games before mid-May, but he'll return as just another middle-innings guy as Washington is loaded at the back end with closer Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez was one of several players connected to an anti-aging clinic in Miami that distributed performance-enhancing drugs. He was named five times in the records of Anthony Bosch, who ran the clinic. Gonzalez' father was named as a client of Bosch, and said while he went to Bosch because he needed to lose weight, his son has had no contact with Bosch, according to the New York Times.
Insight: Gonzalez tweeted a denial, saying "I've never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind, and never will." Gonzalez is coming off the best season of his career in which he won an MLB-best 21 games and had a 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 207 strikeouts in 199 1/3 innings.
Description: Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa is dealing with a torn rotator cuff but he's decided to play through the injury. SOURCE: Comcast Sports Net Washington
Insight: Espinosa hit just .240 over the final two months of the season while dealing with the injury so this could cause fantasy owners some concern. Second base isn't an especially deep position so Espinsosa will still be worth a look on draft day despite not being 100 percent.
Description: Washington avoided arbitration with reliever Drew Storen Thursday by signing him to a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
Insight: Storen's fantasy value was delivered a huge blow earlier this week when the Nationals signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year contract. He'll only be of value in leagues that use holds as a category.
Description: The Nationals have landed former Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano. The two sides have come to an agreement on a new two-year, $28 million contract.
Insight: Soriano will now anchor what was already considered one of baseball's finest bullpens. Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard both pitched well in 2012 but neither will have much fantasy value going forward now that Soriano has been tabbed as the ninth inning man.
Description: If the Mike Napoli deal falls through, the Red Sox are likely to go after Nationals outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse. SOURCE: Fox Sports
Insight: The Nationals have been actively shopping Morse since Adam LaRoche re-signed earlier in the week. Morse would mostly play first base if he went to the Red Sox. Morse is 1-for-12 (.083) in three career games at Fenway Park.
Description: Nationals outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse isn't interested in being a DH, reports Fox's Ken Rosenthal.
Insight: Morse is a solid hitter (.291, 18 HR, 62 RBI) but with first baseman Adam LaRoche coming back for two more seasons, there's just no place for him in Washington anymore. Expect Morse to be traded before the start of the season.
Description: The Nationals have officially re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract worth $24 million with a $2 million buyout on 2015 option. SOURCE: Buster Olney, ESPN
Insight: LaRoche put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2012 -- .271, 33 homers, 100 RBIs, .853 OPS -- and he'll be staying in Washington for at least another two seasons. The re-signing will allow the Nationals to go ahead with plans to trade Michael Morse.
Description: First baseman Adam LaRoche is back on Boston's radar according to Jen Royle from SB Nation.
Insight: It would appear the Red Sox are moving on from Mike Napoli who signed for three years and $39 million earlier this offseason but couldn't pass his physical. The only reason LaRoche is still available is because the Nationals have been unwilling to give him more than a two-year deal. The Red Sox have plenty of cash at their disposal and a chip on their shoulder after one of the franchise's worst seasons ever so it wouldn't be surprising to see them make a strong push for LaRoche.
Description: Righthander Edwin Jackson has been talking to the Indians according to Fox's Ken Rosenthal.
Insight: The Cubs and Rangers are also interested in Jackson, who is expected to net a deal worth around $50 million for four seasons. The Padres had been involved also but they've since dropped out of the running.
Description: The Rangers have stepped up their efforts to sign Adam LaRoche and could be willing to offer the first baseman a three-year contract according to CSN Washington's Mark Zuckerman.
Insight: Now that they've missed out on both Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton, the Rangers need to make a move fast if they want to stay competitive with Oakland and Anaheim in the AL West. LaRoche would fill a hole at first base while the team could also explore a trade for Arizona's Justin Upton to take Hamilton's place in the outfield.
Description: Righthander Dan Haren signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Nationals on Tuesday.
Insight: Haren figures to be the team's fourth or fifth starter behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and possibly Ross Detwiler. Haren has been dealing with a bad hip recently but he's still expected to be a full-go for Spring Training in a couple of months.
Description: ESPN's Jayson Stark says the Orioles are hot on the trail for first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Insight: Boston dropped out of the LaRoche sweepstakes by inking Mike Napoli to a three-year deal earlier in the day. That leaves the O's, Mariners, Nationals, Rangers and Rays as the favorites to land LaRoche, who is coming off a career year with 33 HR and 100 RBI in 154 games for Washington in 2012.
Description: Denard Span is heading to the nation's capital. The Nationals acquired the center fielder Thursday in a trade that sent righthander Alex Myer to Minnesota.
Insight: This likely takes the Nationals out of the running for free agent outfielders Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino. Span hit a respectable .283 in 128 games for the Twins in 2012 and figures to be the team's leadoff hitter and starting center fielder heading into next season. With an outfield of Bryce Harper, Span and Jayson Werth, the Nationals could look to deal left fielder Michael Morse or move him to first base.
Description: Washington center fielder Bryce Harper took home National League Rookie of the Year honors on Monday.
Insight: Harper finished ahead of Arizona's Wade Miley and Cincinnati's Todd Frazier. The 20-year-old smashed 22 HR for the Nats in 2012, with most of those homers coming out of the No. 2 spot in the Washington lineup.
Description: Jon Paul Morosi from Fox Sports named the Red Sox and Rangers as two teams that could be interested in adding free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche this offseason.
Insight: Both teams are in search of a first baseman and it appears Washington (the team LaRoche played for in 2012) is hesitant to give the 33-year-old a long-term deal. LaRoche appeared in six games for the Red Sox during the 2009 season.
Description: The Nationals are unlikely to offer first baseman Adam LaRoche more than a two-year contract according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Insight: LaRoche will turn 33 on Tuesday and has never hit better than .285 for a full season. If LaRoche signs with another team Washington might be forced to move Mike Morse from left field to first base with Roger Bernadina becoming an everyday outfielder.
Description: Washington reached out to first baseman Adam LaRoche by giving him a one-year qualifying offer.
Insight: LaRoche has a week to either accept or decline the offer before becoming a free agent. LaRoche posted career highs in home runs (33) and RBI (100) in 2012 while also winning his first Gold Glove Award.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche turned down his end of a mutual team option for 2013.
Insight: LaRoche had a great season (.271, 33 HR, 100 RBI) and stands to make some serious coin on the open market this offseason. Expect Washington to ante up and offer LaRoche a multi-year deal before another team swoops in and takes him.
Description: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Thursday.
Insight: Zimmerman will be sidelined for the next six weeks, meaning that he should be recovered in plenty of time for the start of the regular season. The 28-year-old hit .282 this year with 25 HR and 95 RBI in 145 games.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went 8-for-21 (.381) with two homers and four RBIs in his first career playoff series. Washington was eliminated from the postseason after St. Louis erased a 6-0 deficit in Game 5 and scored four runs in the ninth to win 7-5 and advance to the NLCS.
Insight: Zimmerman was drafted with the fourth overall pick in 2005, the Nationals' first year after moving from Montreal, so he's considered the "original Washington National." It's good to see he had major success in his first career postseason action even though Washington was eliminated. Zimmerman should be one of the top third baseman drafted next year after he hit .321 with 22 homers and 73 RBIs in his final 90 games of the season.
Description: Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper broke out in his fifth career playoff game, going 2-for-5 with an RBI triple and a solo homer.
Insight: Harper came into Game 5 1-for-18 in the NLDS against the Cardinals. The outfielder helped Washington take a 6-0 lead early in Game 5 but St. Louis fought back and scored four runs in the ninth to eliminate Washington. Harper will turn just 20 years old Tuesday but he won't be able to celebrate with an NLCS appearance.
Description: Nationals closer Drew Storen had a disastrous outing at the worst time, in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cardinals. Storen inherited a 7-5 lead with a chance to send Washington to its first NLCS and promptly allowed four runs to the resilient Cardinals.
Insight: Storen gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Beltran but had St. Louis down to its final strike before walking two and giving up a game-tying single to Daniel Descalso. Pete Kozma followed with a go-ahead two-run single and Jason Motte slammed the door in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Nationals a devastating loss.
Description: Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez won 21 games during the regular season. That's more than any pitcher in the major leagues this year.
Insight: Gonzalez cruised to an 8-2 record in his final 10 starts of the year and emerged as the team's top starting pitcher in Stephen Strasburg's absence, but was wild in his playoff debut, walking seven while striking out five in five innings of work.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth kept Washington alive with a walk-off solo homer to beat St. Louis 2-1 Thursday in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Insight: Werth hit .312 with an .835 OPS after returning from a broken wrist in August but he only managed two homers in 202 at-bats in that span. Still, the big outfielder has plenty of pop and he's taken one deep 14 times in 48 postseason games.
Description: Washington shortstop Ian Desmond continued his excellent postseason with three more hits Wednesday against St. Louis.
Insight: Desmond is 7-for-12 in the series, though only one of those hits has gone for extra bases. Desmond, an All-Star this season for the first time, is now hitting .342 with six homers and 15 RBI since the start of September.
Description: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman collected two hits Monday including a solo homer as the Nationals dropped Game 2 of the NLDS by a score of 12-4.
Insight: Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back homers in the fifth to cut the deficit to 7-3 but that was as close as it would get. Zimmerman will face Chris Carpenter back home in Game 3. He's hitting .231 versus Carpenter for his career.
Description: Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez won 21 games during the regular season. That's more than any pitcher in the major leagues this year.
Insight: Gonzalez cruised to an 8-2 record in his final 10 starts of the year and emerged as the team's top starting pitcher in Stephen Strasburg's absence. Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89 ERA) will start Game 1 of the Division Series against either the Braves or the Cardinals later this weekend.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is a career .438 hitter (7-for-16) with three homers and a 1.500 OPS against Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee.
Insight: Espinosa's batting average is up from last season (.247 versus .236) but his power numbers are down a bit (21 HR in 2011, just 16 this season) and he is leading the NL in strikeouts. Wednesday, however, is a favorable matchup to be enjoyed.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is a career .091 hitter (1-for-11) against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick.
Insight: Werth (.298, 5 HR, 31 RBI) has played well when he hasn't been hurt, which hasn't been often this season. He's played in just 79 games this season. This is a unfavorable matchup which should be avoided.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is a career .389 hitter (7-for-18) against Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse with three homers and a 1.477 OPS.
Insight: Werth (.301, 5 HR, 31 RBI) has played well when he hasn't been hurt, which hasn't been often this season. He's played in just 77 games this season. This is a favorable matchup which you should take advantage of and start Werth.
Description: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper launched his 20th home run of the season Wednesday night in an 8-4 win over Philadelphia.
Insight: He's been a bit of a free swinger as of late (eight strikeouts in his last five contests) but every now and then Harper (.262) will break out and crush a 400-footer like he did on Wednesday. Harper's 20 homers this year are the most ever by a teenager. He's also among the league leaders in triples with nine in 132 games played.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is a career .421 hitter with a 1.239 OPS against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick.
Insight: Desmond is getting hot at just the right time with playoffs around the corner. He's batting .359 over the past four weeks to top off the best season of his career (.296, 24 HR, 71 RBI, .856 OPS). He's a must start on Wednesday.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa collected three hits Monday in a rout against Milwaukee.
Insight: Espinosa's batting average is up from last season (.252 versus .236) but his power numbers are down (21 HR in 2011, just 16 this season). He's not a guy you get excited about but Espinosa can still be a pretty serviceable fantasy option, especially when you consider the lack of talented second basemen in the league today.
Description: Drew Storen will take over the closing duties for the Nationals.
Insight: Storen was one of the top closers in baseball a season ago but had his job taken away from him earlier in the year because of injuries and the superb play of Tyler Clippard. It's a little curious that manager Davey Johnson would tinker with his lineup this close to the postseason but Clippard has been struggling lately (10.80 ERA in his last eight appearances), so this move might be what's necessary for right now.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has homered in each of his last two games and he has a favorable matchup Sunday to look forward to. LaRoche has solid career numbers against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo.
Insight: LaRoche is a .318 career hitter (7-for-22) with two homers and five RBIs against Gallardo. The streaky hitter is trending upward and this favorable matchup makes him a must-start Sunday.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has homered in each of his last two games.
Insight: LaRoche has been very streaky this season when it comes to hitting homers. He hit six in six games at the start of September and his latest two-game streak brings his total for the season up to 32.
Description: Washington starter Gio Gonzalez became MLB's first 20-game winner this season by beating Milwaukee Saturday.
Insight: Gonzalez (20-8, 2.84 ERA) allowed two runs in seven innings Saturday, though neither of them were earned. The lefty held the Brewers to three hits, walked one and struck out five. He's had quite a season, making him one of the National League's top three candidates for the Cy Young Award.
Description: Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced that Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard will share closing duties for the rest of the season, according to csnwashington.com.
Insight: Storen has made 31 appearances this season, posting a 2.59 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and three saves in three chances. Clippard has saved 32 games with a 3.22 ERA but he has a 7.04 ERA in September. If we had to choose one for fantasy purposes we'd go with Storen, as we expect Johnson to go with the hot hand.
Description: Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa (shoulder) is hoping to return Wednesday, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Espinosa has a bruise inside his shoulder capsule. The news was a big relief for Espinosa because he thought he had a torn labrum or rotator cuff. He had a cortisone shot Monday and could play Wednesday.
Description: NBC Sports reports that righthander Stephen Strasburg has been shagging fly balls and taking batting practice for the Nationals.
Insight: Strasburg has actually been a fairly productive hitter for Washington this season, collecting a .277 batting average in 28 games played. Though manager Davey Johnson said it's possible he'd use Strasburg as a pinch-hitter, his only real value is as a starting pitcher and he won't be available in that capacity until next season.
Description: Washington outfielder Bryce Harper is hitless in 10 career at-bats against Mets right-hander R.A. Dickey with six strikeouts.
Insight: The 19-year-old rookie has finally broken out of a two-month slump and is batting .300 over the past four weeks with a 1.019 OPS. However, this matchup isn't a good one for the youngster - sit him.
Description: Nationals righthander Stephen Strasburg is not happy about the team's decision to abruptly shut him down for the year following Friday's start versus the Marlins.
Insight: Friday was one of Strasburg's poorest outings of the year (3 IP, 6 H, 5 ER) and it's clear he hasn't been himself over his past few starts. Strasburg's replacement John Lannan (2-0, 3.46 ERA) only carries modest fantasy appeal and is probably only worth a look in NL-only leagues.
Description: John Lannan is expected to join Washington's rotation in place of Stephen Strasburg, who was officially shut down Saturday.
Insight: Not much of a consolation for Strasburg owners. Lannan has only made two big league appearances this season after starting 128 games for the Nationals in his career. While he's gone 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in those two appearances (both starts), he isn't much of an option outside of NL-only leagues (though he has posted an ERA below 4.00 in the three seasons where he's made 30-plus starts).
Description: After months of speculation, the Nationals confirmed last week that Stephen Strasburg would only make two more starts. However, the team didn't even stick to that. Manager Davey Johnson announced Saturday that Strasburg has been shut down, effective immediately, according to Byron Kerr of MASNsports.com.
Insight: Strasburg was supposed to be shut down after his Sept. 12 start, but the right-hander allowed five runs on six hits in three innings Friday in his final home start. Strasburg finishes with a 15-6 record, 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings. He'll watch the rest of the season from the bench and is droppable in non-dynasty leagues.
Description: It's difficult to stop streaky Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche once he gets rolling. The slugger is batting .480 with six homers and 11 RBIs in seven games this month.
Insight: Contrary to his career numbers, LaRoche has actually been a better hitter against lefties this season, batting .297 with 11 homers and a .916 OPS in 158 plate appearances. The scorching first baseman will face lefty Mark Buehrle Saturday, against whom he is 6-for-13 (.462) with two round-trippers.
Description: Washington outfielder Bryce Harper has only faced Miami starter Jacob Turner three times, but he did take him deep on two of them.
Insight: The 19-year-old rookie has been overshadowed by Mike Trout, but he's still been producive in his first taste on big league pitching. He's hitting .260 with 17 HR and 47 RBI in 114 games. Over the pas two weeks he's batting .348 with five homers and a 1.161 OPS.
Description: Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann pitched seven innings Thursday for the first time since July 8.
Insight: Zimmermann has largely been limited to six innings this season, and he came in having allowed 17 earned in his last 19 1/3 innings over his last four starts. After allowing a run in each of the first two innings Thursday, Zimmermann finished with two runs on five hits and a walk while fanning nine in seven innings to win his first game in nearly a month.
Description: Washington left-hander Gio Gonzalez followed up his first career shutout with seven additional scoreless innings and another win Wednesday against the Cubs.
Insight: Gonzalez is 5-1 in his last six starts. With Wednesday's three-hit, zero-walk, nine-strikeout performance, Gonzalez picked up his 18th win of the year, tying him with R.A. Dickey for the major league lead (Dickey also won Wednesday).
Description: Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche cannot be stopped. After hitting two homers as part of a four-hit game yesterday, LaRoche homered again Wednesday and picked up three hits in four at-bats.
Insight: LaRoche has 12 RBIs in his last seven games and five homers in his last five.
Description: Washington outfielder Bryce Harper didn't wait long to record his second career multi-homer game. It only took him seven games.
Insight: Harper hit two homers for the first time on Aug. 29, and he did it again Wednesday. The 19-year-old is on fire after a rough couple of months, batting .400 with five homers, 10 RBIs and 10 runs scored in his last eight games. Don't hesitate to add him.
Description: Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has confirmed that Stephen Strasburg will make only two more starts this season.
Insight: That means Strasburg (15-6, 2.94 ERA) will be shut down after his September 12th start in New York. John Lannan is likely to replace Strasburg in the rotation, though he's spent the majority of the year in Triple-A and figures to be a mediocre fantasy option at best.
Description: In what could be one of Stephen Strasburg's final starts of the season, the Washington righthander mowed down the Cardinals Sunday in six shutout innings.
Insight: Washington's bullpen blew the lead so Strasburg (15-6, 2.94 ERA) was not credited with the victory. This was a giant improvement for Strasburg after allowing seven runs in five innings in his previous start Tuesday against Miami.
Description: Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann has thrown less than six innings in five of his last six starts, including Saturday against St. Louis.
Insight: Zimmermann had an impeccable 2.28 ERA at the end of July but he turned in a 4.39 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in August and started off September horribly -- the Cardinals tagged him for eight runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings Saturday.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth reached base in all five of his plate appearances Friday night versus the Cardinals.
Insight: Werth (.316, 4 HR, 24 RBI) finished the night with three hits and a pair of walks. He's now 7-for-12 with four RBI in his last three games. Werth's excellent .403 on base percentage is the best on the team.
Description: Washington left-hander Gio Gonzalez earned his first major league shutout Friday night in a victory over the Cardinals.
Insight: Gonzalez (17-7, 3.10 ERA) has been dominant over his last five starts, going 4-1 in that span with a sparkling 2.23 ERA. He's right in the thick of the National League Cy Young race as this win vaulted Gonzalez into a three-way tie with Johnny Cueto and R.A. Dickey for the major-league lead in wins.
Description: Washington center fielder Bryce Harper homered again Thursday, one night after his first career multi-homer game.
Insight: Once considered the frontrunner for the NL Rookie of the Year Award and a legitimate rival to AL wunderkind Mike Trout, but he hit .222 in July and started off .213 in August. Still, Harper's talent is immense and he's still just 19 years old, so any signs of life must be monitored.
Description: Nationals starter Edwin Jackson dominated the Cardinals over eight innings Thursday to end a two-start losing streak.
Insight: Jackson (8-9, 3.53 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) allowed just five earned on nine hits and recorded a 19/3 K/BB in 13 innings over his last two starts, but he took a loss in both of them. Thursday, he allowed one unearned run on four hits and struck out 10. This has easily been Jackson's best all-around season in the big leagues.
Description: According to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse (hand) is back in the lineup Tuesday.
Insight: Morse missed both weekend games after being hit in the right hand by a pitch on Friday. X-rays were negative and the swelling is down so Morse shouldn't have any issues aside from regaining his timing.
Description: Washington right fielder Jayson Werth should be avoided on Tuesday as he's a career .190 hitter versus Miami starter Ricky Nolasco with four hits and nine strikeouts in 21 official at-bats.
Insight: Werth has played well since his return from the DL (.342 in 79 at bats) but you won't want him in your lineup on Tuesday.
Description: Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa could stand to have a successful fantasy day Sunday against Cliff Lee. He's batting an amazing .538 in 13 career go-rounds against the former AL Cy Young award winner.
Insight: Espinosa (.253, 14 HR, 46 RBI) hasn't been one of the more prized commodities in fantasy this year but you'll definitely want to play him Sunday with Lee (2-7, 3.78 ERA) on the hill for Philadelphia.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is 8-for-19 (.421) against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick with four extra base hits and a 1.239 OPS.
Insight: Desmond recovered quickly from a torn oblique and was able to return in less than a month. He's putting together the best season of his career, batting .282 with 19 HR, 56 RBI and 15 steals. He's a must start on Friday.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg continues to dominate amid rumors that he'll be shut down in September. Strasburg fanned 10 Braves in six innings Tuesday and allowed just one run on four hits to improve to 15-5.
Insight: What a season it's been for the young ace. In 145 1/3 innings, Strasburg has struck out 183 batters and posted a 2.85 ERA. If he continues to average 5.8 innings per start, it would only take three starts to exceed 160 innings for the season. If the team wants to extend him to 180 innings, he would reach that total in six starts.
Description: Washington outfielder Michael Morse is hitless in eight at-bats versus Mets lefty Johan Santana.
Insight: Morse has played well after missing the first two months, batting .300 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs, but his OPS is down 107 points from last season when he exploded on the scene with 31 HR and 95 RBI. Bypass this unfavorable matchup.
Description: Washington second baseman Steve Lombardozzi pounded four hits Wednesday in the Nationals' 6-4 win over the Giants.
Insight: Lombardozzi has actually been playing pretty well lately (15-for-30 over his last seven games) and his eligibility at more than one position is a plus, but it might still be a bit early to declare him "fantasy-worthy" just yet.
Description: Washington outfielder Michael Morse (thumb) is in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against San Francisco.
Insight: Morse has played well after missing the first two months, batting .301 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs, but his OPS is down 109 points from last season when he exploded on the scene with 31 HR and 95 RBI.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (oblique) might be activated from the disabled list Friday, according to Adam Berry of MLB.com.
Insight: Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Desmond could return Friday if his workouts and simulated game go well. Desmond was the most valuable fantasy shortstop in the first half but he has missed most of the second half with a torn oblique.
Description: Washington outfielder Michael Morse (thumb) said he will return to the lineup Wednesday, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Morse has played well after missing the first two months, batting .301 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs, but his OBP is down 36 points and his slugging percentage is down 73 points from last season.
Description: Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is just 1-for-9 with five strikeouts against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner.
Insight: LaRoche has batted .282 with eight homers and 23 RBI in the 32 games since the All-Star break, but was just 2-for-22 over the past seven days and combined with a poor matchup should not be started on Tuesday.
Description: According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg is expected to miss 2-3 regular season starts to limit his workload.
Insight: Ladson said he was informed that Strasburg will not participate in the postseason once he's shut down. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo reiterated Friday that there is still no specific number and that nothing has changed regarding the club's plan to shut down the ace after Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that the number would be 180 innings. While reports continue to vary regarding Strasburg, fantasy owners should expect the right-hander to be shut down at some point in September.
Description: Washington right fielder Jayson Werth won't be in the lineup for Sunday's matinee in Arizona.
Insight: Werth (.311, 3 HR, 16 RBI) has been red-hot since making his return from the disabled list earlier in the month. In 10 games since his activation, Werth has hit .412 with four RBI. The only thing missing is his power stroke. Werth hasn't homered for the Nationals since May 5.
Description: The Nationals have extended Stephen Strasburg's innings limit from 160 to 180.
Insight: That should buy Strasburg (12-5, 2.97 ERA) an extra couple weeks of fantasy relevance. He's currently on pace to pitch 184 innings this season so it's possible that the Nationals could go to a six-man rotation to give him extra rest during the last month of the season.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez fired the second complete game of his career Wednesday against Houston to improve to 14-6.
Insight: As good as Gonzalez has been this season, he hasn't been much of an innings eater until his last two starts. The lefty has allowed seven earned on 18 hits in 17 innings over his last two starts, and he has limited his walked to two in that span.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is not in the starting lineup Tuesday due to fatigue in his legs.
Insight: Werth has gone 7-for-16 (.438) with five walks in five games since returning from the disabled list, but he left Monday's game with tired legs. After missing three months with a broken wrist, his fitness level obviously is not where he would like it to be, but he should be fine after resting for a day.
Description: Washington starter Stephen Strasburg looked much better Sunday against the Marlins. After getting knocked around for six runs in four innings in his last start, Strasburg allowed just three hits over six shutout innings, walking one and striking out six.
Insight: Strasburg (12-5) lowered his ERA to 2.97 in the win and is now just 32 and two thirds innings away from his limit of 160 innings pitched. He's tied with Detroit's Max Scherzer for the major-league lead in strikeouts with 160.
Description: Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth has gone 4-for-8 with five walks, zero strikeouts and three runs scored in three games since returning from the disabled list, but he's never had success against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco.
Insight: Werth has just three hits in 18 at-bats and has struck out nine times against Nolasco. You might want to roll with Werth anyway on Sunday, as Nolasco hasn't been getting many people out this season (4.90 ERA, 1.41 WHIP).
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has been tearing the cover off the ball since late July. LaRoche has pounded seven homers in his last 11 games and has a favorable matchup Sunday to boot.
Insight: LaRoche will face Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco Sunday. The Nats first baseman is 13-for-41 (.317) against Nolasco, but he's never homered off him. Expect that to change Sunday with the way LaRoche is swinging the bat.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa came into Saturday's game against the Marlins 3-for-37 with 17 strikeouts in his last nine games, but he went 2-for-5 with a go-ahead three-run homer Saturday.
Insight: Espinosa provides pop and speed with 10 homers and 17 steals from the two middle infield positions, but he's prone to long slumps because he strikes out a ton. Hopefully Saturday is a signal that he's broken out of his latest cold streak, but he did strike out two more times so you might want to leave him on the bench to see how he fares Sunday.
Description: Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann failed to go six innings for the first time this season Saturday against the Marlins. Zimmermann, who had this start pushed back due to shoulder inflammation, allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits and threw 96 pitches in five innings.
Insight: Zimmermann has been one of the most consistent starters in baseball this season. The poor performance didn't have much to do with the shoulder inflammation, as the right-hander was reportedly throwing 94-95 mph, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
Description: Nationals manager Davey Johnson has announced that starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg will indeed be shut down after he reaches 160 innings pitched.
Insight: Strasburg (11-5, 3.12 ERA) turned in his worst outing of the season Tuesday versus Philadelphia (4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER) so it appears he's already starting to show fatigue. Either way, it looks like fantasy owners will only be able to squeeze another month or so of use out of the All-Star righthander.
Description: The Nationals recalled John Lannan from Triple-A Syracuse to start Game 1 of a day/night doubleheader with Miami.
Insight: Lannan (1-0, 2.57 ERA) will probably head back to Syracuse after Friday's start but he could be back for the stretch run as the Nationals have announced that they will indeed shut down Stephen Strasburg (11-5, 3.12) after he reaches 160 innings pitched.
Description: Nationals lefthander Ross Detwiler was brilliant Thursday against the Phillies, firing seven innings for the third time in his last four starts.
Insight: Detwiler improved to 6-4 with a 3.02 ERA by throwing seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball. The lefty has didn't last five innings his last time on the hill, but that was in Milwaukee. At the very least Detwiler has moved into must-start territory when he's throwing at Nationals Park (5-1, 2.51 ERA at home).
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (back) is back in the lineup Thursday against the Phillies.
Insight: Zimmerman didn't start Tuesday or Wednesday due to back spasms, but he was able to come off the bench and pick up a pinch-hit single Wednesday. The scorching Zimmerman is batting .366 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs in his last 33 games, so be sure to get him back in your lineup tonight.
Description: Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann will have his next start pushed back one day while he deals with some minor inflammation in his throwing shoulder.
Insight: Zimmermann was slated to start the first game of a doubleheader Friday against Miami but now it looks like he'll throw on Saturday instead. He enters Wednesday's action with the third-lowest ERA in MLB (2.28).
Description: Nationals 1B/OF Michael Morse had two hits, a homer and four RBIs Sunday against Milwaukee.
Insight: Morse (.305, 8 HR, 32 RBIs) has kept his average around .300 since he returned from the DL 51 games ago, and he's starting to add some pop to the mix. The slugger has four homers in his last 11 games.
Description: The Nationals released outfielder Rick Ankiel on Friday. The 33-year-old had been designated for assignment earlier in the week.
Insight: Roger Bernadina (.288, 2 HRs, 17 RBIs) has benefited from more playing time since Ankiel's departure but that will change when Jayson Werth (.276, 3 HRs, 12 RBIs) returns from the disabled list next week. As for Ankiel (.228, 5 HRs, 15 RBIs), expect him to catch on with another team soon, though it's unlikely that he'll become a major fantasy contributor.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has homered in each of the past two games and has a favorable matchup Thursday against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo. LaRoche is 6-for-19 (.316) with a homer, three RBIs and three walks against Gallardo.
Insight: LaRoche has always been a strong second half player, but this season he got off to a hot start for the first time in his career. He has three homers and an .806 OPS in 14 second half games and remains a solid first base option if you can handle his low batting average.
Description: According to the Washington Post, Jayson Werth (wrist) could be back in the lineup Tuesday against Philadelphia.
Insight: Werth hasn't played since early May due to a broken wrist but he'll be back in time for the stretch run. If he's available in your league, grab him, even though he might take some time to get his timing back when he rejoins the team.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez tossed his most dominant start since May 27 Tuesday against the Mets. Gonzalez allowed just two hits and one unearned run in seven innings.
Insight: Gonzalez (13-5, 3.13 ERA) surrendered six earned runs in 3 1/3 his last start and hadn't thrown seven innings in a start since May 27, so Tuesday night was a positive development for the fantasy ace.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is just 1-for-17 (.059) against Mets ace R.A. Dickey.
Insight: Espinosa isn't hitting homers as he did last season when he pounded out 21 long balls, but he's on a pace to steal around 25 bases and he continues to improve his batting average. He's a nice low-end starter, but Tuesday is not the day to use Espinosa.
Description: Nationals 1B/OF Michael Morse hit his sixth homer of the season Monday against the Mets.
Insight: Morse has played 45 games since he returned from the disabled list, hitting .297 with six homers and 25 RBIs. Not bad, but fantasy owners drafted the slugger for his power potential so we'd like to see some more pop in August.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond has been diagnosed with a torn left oblique, according to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.
Insight: Desmond (.286, 17 HRs, 53 RBIs) will be out indefinitely, meaning fantasy owners will have to comb through a shallow shortstop pool to replace the most productive player at that position this season.
Description: Nationals lefthander Ross Detwiler held Atlanta to two runs (one earned) on seven hits in seven innings Sunday to improve to 5-3.
Insight: Detwiler (5-3, 3.01 ERA) couldn't get past 6 2/3 innings in any of his first 12 starts this season but he's gone seven in two straight. Give the former first-round draft pick a look in deeper leagues.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has owned Braves starter Jair Jurrjens in his career and that didn't change Sunday as the third baseman deposited two balls into the seats off the right-hander.
Insight: After 2 1/2 woeful months, something clicked for Zimmerman. He entered June 24 hitting .218, but since then he's collected 40 hits in 102 at-bats (.392), 11 homers and 28 RBIs in 25 games.
Description: One day after injuring his ankle in the first game of a doubleheader against the Braves, Washington outfielder Bryce Harper is back in the lineup and batting second Sunday against Atlanta.
Insight: Harper (.270, 8 HRs, 26 RBIs, 12 SBs) went 1-for-1 and stole a base in a pinch-hit appearance late in Game 2 of the doubleheader so we suspected he'd be fine to play again on Sunday. That hit actually broke Harper out of an 0-for-12 cold spell.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, still not fully healed from the oblique injury that caused him to miss most of the last week, is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against Atlanta.
Insight: Desmond (.286, 17 HRs, 53 RBIs) acknowledged that though he's unlikely to be placed on the disabled list, this injury could plague him all season, so tread carefully with the All-Star shortstop.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been excellent against Atlanta righthander Jair Jurrjens in the past. In 33 at bats against him, Zimmerman is hitting .364 with a homer and five RBIs.
Insight: Zimmerman (.268, 12 HRs, 47 RBIs) was awful during the season's first three months (.234, 5 HRs, 31 RBIs) but he's been on fire in July so far (.400, 7 HRs, 16 RBIs). With Jurrjens (3-3, 6.20 ERA) on the mound Sunday, we're guessing Zimmerman will be able to keep his recent hot-streak in tact for at least another game.
Description: Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper pinch hit in Game 2 of the team's doubleheader against Atlanta Saturday and despite leaving Game 1 with a left ankle contusion, picked up a single, stole a base and scored from second on a single.
Insight: Harper fouled a pitch off his left ankle Saturday in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Atlanta and didn't start the second game but he sent fantasy owners a clear message that he's just fine.
Description: Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper had an MRI Saturday on his injured left ankle after exiting the game early. The outfielder has a contusion, but no fracture, according to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.
Insight: Harper fouled a pitch off his left ankle Saturday in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Atlanta. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Harper is doubtful to play in Game 2.
Description: Nationals starter Edwin Jackson got back on track Saturday against Atlanta after three straight poor starts.
Insight: Jackson (5-6, 3.73 ERA) was the tough-luck loser against Ben Sheets Saturday despite firing seven innings of one-run ball. Jackson came in having allowed 16 earned runs in his last 13 2/3 innings as his ERA rose by nearly a run.
Description: Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper left Saturday's game with an apparent bruised left ankle.
Insight: Harper is batting .269 with 46 runs, 8 HR, 26 RBI and 11 SB. He's certainly not playing as well as Angels outfielder Mike Trout though Harper has been hyped much more this season. Come next year's fantasy draft we will see a huge difference in expectations.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is in the starting lineup for Friday's game against Atlanta. He said he felt good enough to play in Thursday's game against New York but Washington took the cautious approach.
Insight: Desmond (.289, 17 HRs, 52 RBIs, 13 SB) has been one of the best fantasy shortstops in 2012 combining speed and power.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who hasn't started since Saturday while dealing with a sore oblique, is probable for Friday's game against Atlanta. He said he felt good enough to play in Thursday's game against New York but Washington took the cautious approach.
Insight: Desmond (.289, 17 HRs, 52 RBIs, 13 SB) has been one of the best fantasy shortstops in 2012 combining speed and power.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is 1-for-13 (.077) with four strikeouts over his career against Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson.
Insight: Historically, LaRoche has always been a great second-half player, but he hasn't started out 2012 in usual fashion. In the seven games since the break his OPS is .718, 118 point lower than the first half. Over his nine-year career, LaRoche has an OPS 118 points higher after the Summer Classic. Sit him on Friday.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is just 3-for-21 (.143) against Braves starter Tommy Hanson with seven strikeouts and a .412 OPS
Insight: After three months of sub .700 OPS production, Zimmerman exploded in July, batting .377 with six homers, 13 RBI and a 1.280 OPS. Even if he doesn't hit Hanson well, we hope he will continue to stroke the ball well.
Description: Washington GM Mike Rizzo says that there is "no magic number" for how many innings ace Stephen Strasburg will be allowed to throw this season and that he will use "the eye test" in determining when he will shut down the young fireballer.
Insight: An interesting development in the Strasburg innings saga. Now it appears that there is no set limit, which is a good sign for fantasy owners who were concerned that Strasburg (10-4, 2.66 ERA) would be shut down immediately after he hit 160 innings. With the Nationals still very much in the hunt in the National League East (they head into Thursday's action with a four and a half game lead in the division), Washington appears to be softening its stance on Strasburg and it will be interesting to see how this situation plays out when the playoff race really heats up in early September.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who hasn't started since Saturday while dealing with a sore oblique, said he felt good enough to play in Thursday's game against New York but Washington has opted to take the cautious approach by keeping him out another day.
Insight: Desmond (.287, 17 HRs, 52 RBIs) seems to be on the mend and it wouldn't surprise us if he was back for the start of this weekend's series against Atlanta.
Description: Nationals relief pitcher Drew Storen has officially been activated from the 60-day DL. He missed the entire first half of the season with an elbow injury.
Insight: While he was out, Storen lost his position as the team's closer. For now, he'll settle for setup duty though it might not be long until he reclaims his role as Washington's ninth-inning man as Tyler Clippard (2-3, 2.83 ERA) has struggled in his past few outings (0-1, 10.80 ERA in his last five appearances).
Description: Washington righthander Drew Storen is expected to come off the disabled list Thursday against the Mets. Storen missed the season's first three and a half months with an elbow injury.
Insight: Tyler Clippard (2-3, 2.45 ERA, 14-for-16 in save opportunities) seems to have a pretty good handle on the closer's role right now so Storen will likely be used as the team's setup man upon his return. He'd be next in line for the closer's job should Clippard suffer an injury or start struggling.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond will sit out again Wednesday versus the Mets. He's been out of the starting lineup four straight games while recovering from an oblique injury.
Insight: Desmond (.287, 17 HR, 52 RBI) came in as a pinch-runner Tuesday and later walked in his only at bat of the game. It looks like he's close to returning to the Washington starting nine, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon in the Mets/Nationals series finale.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is 3-for-25 (.120) with seven strikeouts over his career against Mets starter Chris Young.
Insight: LaRoche carried the Nationals over the first month with an April OPS of .964, but his OPS since May 1 is just .764 and he's batting .229 over the past 60 games. A bad Wednesday matchup should have him sitting comfortably on your bench.
Description: Nationals lefthander Ross Detwiler had his best and longest start of the season Tuesday against the Mets, tossing seven scoreless innings in a no decision.
Insight: Detwiler (4-3, 3.15 ERA) had a solid run as a starter earlier this season, posting a 1.59 ERA through his first five turns before tapering off and losing his spot in the rotation to Chien-Ming Wang. However, Wang didn't pitch well and then went on the DL with a strained hip, so Detwiler returned to the rotation. Tuesday was the first time he's exceeded 6 2/3 innings in a start.
Description: Washington shortstop Ian Desmond (oblique) is not in the lineup Tuesday against the Mets.
Insight: Desmond (.287, 17 HR, 52 RBI) has been fantasy's best shortstop this season, but he told Nationals manager Davey Johnson that he thinks the injury could linger all season, according to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa had three hits in four at-bats Monday against Miami. Espinosa started at shortstop in place of the injured Ian Desmond.
Insight: Espinosa has started at shortstop in each of the last two games while Desmond rests his sore oblique. If he could get eligibility at that position it would give him more value to fantasy owners. Right now, he's limited to NL-only leagues.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had three hits, including a double and a solo homer, in three at-bats Monday against Miami.
Insight: Fantasy owners can pinpoint June 24 as the date Zimmerman returned to fantasy relevance. Since that date, the third baseman has gone 28-for-75 (.373) with eight doubles, seven homers and 21 RBIs. He should be owned in all leagues going forward.
Description: Nationals starter Edwin Jackson has slipped up in his last three starts, allowing 16 earned runs on 21 hits in 13 2/3 innings. The right-hander dropped to 5-5 Monday after lasting just five innings against Miami.
Insight: Jackson had a 2.91 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP through 92 2/3 innings but he's seen those totals balloon to 3.89 and 1.16 in his last three starts.
Description: Washington shortstop Ian Desmond, who is struggling with a sore oblique and is doubtful for Monday, is 0-for-6 against Miami starter Carlos Zambrano.
Insight: Desmond (.287, 17 HR, 52 RBI) has been a huge contributor to fantasy teams and if a trip to the disabled list in neccesary, he'd be greatly missed. Hopefully it's just a short-term injury. With an unfavorable matchup scheduled for Monday its a good time to give him another day off to recuperate.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg shut out Miami over six innings Sunday in his first start of the second half.
Insight: While it's still unclear if Strasburg (10-4, 2.66) will be shut down at 160 innings, there shouldn't be any concerns about the right-hander's performance until then. For the record, he now has 105 innings on the season.
Description: Washington shortstop Ian Desmond will sit for the first time in 70 games Sunday when the Nationals play the Marlins. Desmond has been struggling with a sore oblique.
Insight: Desmond (.287, 17 HRs, 52 RBIs) skipped the All-Star game because of the injury and he seemed to tweak it during his final at bat of the night on Saturday. We're not sure if Desmond's oblique issues will eventually land him on the disabled list but it seems like at the very least he'll probably be on the shelf for another three or four days.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg said Thursday that the ballclub has not discussed an innings cap for later this season, according to ESPN.
Insight: Washington GM Mike Rizzo has said multiple times that the team plans on shutting Strasburg (9-4, 2.82 ERA) down after 160 innings. Strasburg is 61 innings away from that, which would give him roughly 10 more starts at his current pace.
Description: Nationals closer Tyler Clippard allowed the game-winning run to come across on a wild pitch Sunday against the Rockies. The loss was Clippard's third of the season.
Insight: This was the first run Clippard had given up since May 16, snapping a streak of 20 scoreless outings in a row. Clippard (2-3, 1.93 ERA) has still yet to blow a save since taking over as the team's closer in late May.
Description: Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann turned in a solid seven inning effort Sunday against the Rockies. Over 95 pitches, Zimmerman scattered three hits and one run, while walking two. Zimmerman was given a no-decision.
Insight: Don't be fooled by the 5-6 record: Zimmerman is actually having an excellent season for Washington. His ERA fell to 2.61 after Sunday's game and he hasn't given up more than three runs in an outing since May 28 when he gave up four against the Marlins. Part of Zimmerman's success can be attributed to his outstanding command: he's walked only 22 batters in 17 starts this season.
Description: For the second time in as many days, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond crushed a home run as Washington fell to the Rockies by a score of 4-3 Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.
Insight: The homer was Desmond's 17th of the 2012 season and the fifth long ball he's hit in his last 10 games. During that 10-game span, he has hit .378 with 12 RBIs. Desmond (.285, 17 HRs, 51 RBIs) was selected to represent the National League in Tuesday's All-Star Game but instead he's skipping the festivities to rest a sore oblique.
Description: Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton's knee injury has opened up a spot on the NL All-Star team for Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper.
Insight: Harper is now the youngest position player to ever be elected to an All-Star team. He's plenty deserving too: in 63 games since his callup in late April, Harper is hitting .283 with eight homers, 25 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is 2-for-15 (.133) with one RBI in his career against Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie.
Insight: Zimmerman has 19 hits, including five homers, and 17 RBIs in 57 at-bats over his last 13 games, and Guthrie has served up 103 hits and 17 home runs in 77 1/3 innings this season, so we would advise you to ignore Zimmerman's career numbers and start him Sunday.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond won't play the All-Star game, instead choosing to rest his injured oblique, but that doesn't mean he's going to stop hitting prior to the break. Desmond blasted his 16th homer of the season Saturday against Colorado.
Insight: Desmond already has topped his previous career high by six homers. He should be fully healthy for the second half.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez allowed just one run in six innings Saturday against Colorado, the first time he's accomplished that since he shut out Philadelphia on May 21.
Insight: Gonzalez (12-3, 2.92 ERA) hasn't thrown more than 6 1/3 innings in a start since May 27, but he's managed to limit the damage during this rough stretch. Even though he has a 4.28 ERA in his last seven starts, the lefty has still gone 5-2 in that span.
Description: Nationals All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond will miss the Midsummer Classic Monday due to an oblique injury. Atlanta's Michael Bourn will replace Desmond on the roster.
Insight: Desmond has been one of fantasy's best shortstops this season, batting .279 with 15 homers, 48 RBIs and nine steals, but he'll use the break to rest his oblique injury. Obviously, fantasy owners support that decision as we want Desmond to be fully healthy for the second half.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg dropped his third decision in a row Friday after giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits over six innings in a 5-1 loss to Colorado.
Insight: It wasn't a terrible outing for Strasburg (9-4, 2.82 ERA) but it certainly wasn't one of his better performances of the year. Despite his recent cold streak, opponents are still hitting only .224 against Strasburg this season.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is 4-for-23 with seven strikeouts and zero homers in his career against Giants starter Matt Cain.
Insight: Laroche received a day off yesterday against lefty Madison Bumgarner, but he entered the game and walked twice in two plate appearances. Thursday would be another day to take the first baseman out of your lineup, as he has a .174 average against Cain.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has six hits, two home runs and seven RBIs in three games in July after he went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs Wednesday against San Francisco.
Insight: Zimmerman has recorded an OPS lower than .700 in each of the first three months this season, but he appears to be heating up heading into the All-Star break. Zimmerman owners may finally be rewarded for their patience this month.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is just a .111 hitter versus Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner with five strikeouts in nine career at-bats.
Insight: Laroche carried the Nationals offense early on after they suffered numerous injuries to their lineup, but he's batting just .230 with a .760 OPS over the past four weeks. He's likely to get the day off, but if he doesn't you should take him out of the lineup.
Description: Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has been placed on the DL with a stained right hip.
Insight: The Wang experiment (he went 2-3 with a 7.61 ERA in seven outings this season) in Washington fizzled out almost as soon as it began. His days of being a productive fantasy contributor appear to be over.
Description: Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez was activated from the DL on Tuesday. He missed about a month while dealing with a finger injury.
Insight: Rodriguez (1-3, 5.14 ERA) already lost his closer's job to Tyler Clippard (1.83 ERA, 13 saves in 14 chances), who has been brilliant in his new role, so Rodriguez shouldn't carry much fantasy value going forward.
Description: Nationals reliever Drew Storen (elbow) will begin a minor league rehab assignment this Thursday.
Insight: Tyler Clippard (13 saves) has done well in Storen's absence and the collapse of Henry Rodriguez, so it will be interesting to see where manager Davey Johnson puts Storen when he returns. In 2011, Storen posted 43 saves with a 2.75 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
Description: The sample size is small, but Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is a .778 hitter (7-for-9) in his career against Giants ace Tim Lincecum.
Insight: Desmond is putting together the best season of his career, adding power to his game while also improving his batting average. For the season he's batting a career high .276 with 13 HR, 43 RBI and a .792 OPS. He's hitting 350 for the week and is a must start on Tuesday.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez has not pitched well as of late, but he continues to win games. Gonzalez allowed four earned runs for the second straight start Sunday against Atlanta, but he also recorded his third straight victory.
Insight: Gonzalez (11-3, 3.01 ERA) tossed five innings Sunday, making that six straight starts he has thrown less than seven innings. Gonzalez is clearly going through a rough patch right now, but to his credit he hasn't let things get too out of hand.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit .218 with a .589 OPS in June, but he started off July well, hitting a homer and driving in four runs Sunday against Atlanta.
Insight: Zimmerman has recorded an OPS lower than .700 in each of the first three months this season, but he could be in store for a strong July. If he's still struggling halfway through the month, it will be safe to cut him loose.
Description: Nationals outfielder Mike Morse had four hits, including a solo homer, in four at-bats Friday against Atlanta.
Insight: Morse has two four-hit games in his last four and 12 hits in his last 19 at-bats. He's a must-add if he's available and a must-start if you own him, as he appears to be back to his old self at the plate.
Description: Nationals reliever Drew Storen (elbow) threw 40 pitches in live batting practice Friday, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com. He'll pitch in a two-inning simulated game Monday and then go out on a minor league rehab assignment.
Insight: Storen said his elbow feels better now than it did last year. The closer said the first game after the All-Star break "seems logical" for his return. Considering Tyler Clippard is 12-for-12 with a 0.00 ERA since he took over as Washington's closer at the end of May, the Nationals may choose to ease Storen back instead of handing him the closer role right away.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond homered for the second straight game Thursday against Colorado.
Insight: Desmond is 8-for-15 with four doubles, two homers and five RBIs in his last three games and has 13 bombs, 41 RBIs and eight steals this season. The shortstop was expected to do this last season after he had a strong second half in 2010, but he underwhelmed with a .253 average and eight homers. Better late than never.
Description: Nationals outfielder Mike Morse went deep for the second time this season Thursday in Washington's 11-10 extra innings loss to Colorado.
Insight: Morse went 2-5 on the afternoon and overall he's 8-15 in his last three games with five RBIs. In that span, Morse's average has shot up from .217 all the way to .265. It's safe to say he's out of his slump.
Description: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper hit a game-tying solo homer in the ninth inning Thursday off Colorado closer Rafael Betancourt.
Insight: Harper raised his average to .282 with his second consecutive two-hit game. The homer was his eighth of the season. Expect Harper to produce similar consistent numbers for the rest of the year.
Description: Washington reliever Brad Lidge has officially been released. Lidge was designated for assignment by the Nationals more than a week ago.
Insight: Lidge has 225 career saves in 603 major league appearances but he has recorded only three saves over the last two seasons. We'd expect Lidge to catch on with another team but not necessarily as a closer.
Description: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is a career .533 hitter (8-for-15) versus Colorado starter Jeff Francis.
Insight: Zimmerman has been a disappointment this season (.223, 3 HR, 23 RBI) as he was last year. At some point fantasy owners will have to lower expectations from his 2009-10 seasons when he was a budding star. Monday, however, is a favorable matchup and Zimmerman is worth a flier.
Description: Nationals lefthander Ross Detwiler returned to Washington's rotation Sunday against Baltimore with five shutout innings. Detwiler allowed four hits and walked two while striking out three.
Insight: Detwiler had a solid run as a starter earlier this season, going 3-3 with a 3.88 ERA in nine starts. However, he struggles to get deep into games -- his longest outing this season is 6 1/3 innings.
Description: Washington's Tyler Clippard will remain the team's closer even after Drew Storen is activated from the DL.
Insight: The Nationals have tried several different closers in Storen's absence but it looks like they've finally found their man in Clippard. Since posting a 5.40 ERA in the season's opening month, Clippard has allowed just one earned run in 22.1 innings of work (0.40). Storen has converted all 12 chances since becoming Washington's closer at the end of May.
Description: Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche went 2-for-4 with a solo homer Saturday against Baltimore.
Insight: Laroche came in 0-for-12 in his last four games and 9-for-61 (.148) this month. The first baseman has had a solid first half considering he usually struggles before the All-Star break. You just have to hope he's not going in reverse this year.
Description: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went 0-for-4 Friday.
Insight: Zimmerman is in a deep slump right now, going 6-for-48 (.125) since June 10. He also has just three homers in 216 at-bats this season. Because of that, he's really not worth owning right now despite his past success.
Description: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is just 1-for-9 (.111) in his career versus Baltimore starter Jason Hammel.
Insight: Desmond has been a huge contributor to fantasy lineups in almost every category. He's scored 33 runs, knocked out 11 home runs, collected 36 RBI and has eight stolen bases. If he can raise his average closer to .300 he'll be one of the best bargains at his position. Friday, however, is an unfavorable matchup.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez fought through command issues to hold Tampa Bay to two runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings in Washington's win on Thursday.
Insight: Gonzalez (9-3, 2.55) threw 50 pitches over the first two innings but he was able to strike out Carlos Pena with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the second. Gonzalez was also visably (and audibly) frustrated with some of the home plate umpire's calls early on. It's a good sign that Gonzalez didn't let the game get away from him despite all of his early troubles.
Description: Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg won for the ninth time this season on Wednesday. He allowed five hits and two earned runs over seven innings.
Insight: Strasburg's 10 strikeouts Wednesday night gave him his third double-digit strikeout outing of the season and he now leads the league with 110 total punchouts in 2012. Strasburg (9-1, 2.46 ERA) reached 84 innings pitched for the season Wednesday, meaning that he is now over halfway to his innings limit of 160.
Description: Washington starter Chien-Ming Wang has lost his spot in the Nationals' starting rotation.
Insight: Wang (2-3, 6.10 ERA) looked awful in his start Tuesday against the Rays (3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BBs) and apparently that was all the Nationals coaching staff needed to see before making this move. Wang could move back into the rotation if any of Washington's starters get hurt but even if he does, his low strikeout rate and awful .349 BAA make him a pitcher to avoid in fantasy.
Description: The drought is finally over for Nationals outfielder Michael Morse. After crushing 31 home runs in 2011, Morse finally has his first homer of 2012. He hit it Tuesday night in Washington's 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay.
Insight: Morse (.230, 1 HRs, 6 RBIs) has been struggling since his return from the DL but his 2-4 outing Tuesday against Rays ace David Price is certainly a step in the right direction.
Description: According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth (wrist) is on schedule in his recovery from a broken wrist. A late July return has not been ruled out.
Insight: Werth was expected to be out until August, and that timetable is still in play, but the outfielder may be slightly ahead of schedule. The Nationals outfielder hasn't played since May 6 due to a broken left wrist.
Description: Nationals rightfielder Bryce Harper followed up an 0-for-7 performance Saturday with two hits Sunday against the Yankees.
Insight: Harper (.294, 7 HR, 19 RBI) has shown great poise for a 19-year-old in his rookie season. Add quickly erasing the memory of a five-strikeout game with two hits the next day to his list of accomplishments.
Description: Nationals rightfielder Bryce Harper has had a number of terrific performances this season but Saturday's effort against the Yankees was not one of them. The Washington rookie went 0-7 and struck out five times.
Insight: Harper (.289, 7 HRs, 19 RBIs) now must live with the embarrassing honor of becoming the first teenager in major league history to strike out five times in one game. Saturday's tough outing aside, he has been very productive for the Nationals since his April call-up and certainly worthy of a spot in any fantasy outfield.
Description: Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche is back in the starting lineup after missing a game due to a bruised right foot.
Insight: LaRoche (.261, 11 HR, 42 RBI) fouled a ball off his foot in Tuesday night's 4-2 victory and missed the game on Wednesday. Young Tyler Moore started at first base Wednesday and hit a pair of homers, knocking in five runs. Amazing how that kind of production will help heal a veteran's injury. Moore should see some playing time in the outfield.
Description: Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche missed Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays with a sore right foot, though the Nationals do expect him to be available for Friday night's matchup against the Yankees.
Insight: LaRoche (.261, 11 HRs, 42 RBIs) fouled a ball off his foot in Tuesday night's 4-2 victory but he should be good to go again after Washington's off day on Thursday.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg won his fifth straight start Wednesday against Toronto. Strasburg held the Blue Jays to two runs on five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out eight to improve to 8-1.
Insight: Strasburg won the race to 100 strikeouts, besting Justin Verlander (95), who will likely get there when he starts Thursday against the Cubs. The Nationals are going to have a tough decision when it comes to Strasburg's innings limit, as Washington is leading the division. Hopefully for fantasy owners, Strasburg can convince Nationals management that he can extend himself this season, as he's been one of the most valuable starters in fantasy baseball.
Description: Nationals starter Chien-Ming Wang held Toronto to two runs on four hits in five innings Tuesday. Wang required 95 pitches to get through five innings due to his five walks. He also struck out five.
Insight: Wang improved to 2-2 on the year, but this is his first win since moving back to the starting rotation in place of Ross Detwiler. In three starts, Wang has allowed eight runs on 19 hits in 14 1/3 innings. He's walked 11 and struck out 10. You might want to hold off on starting Wang until he displays some better command of his pitches.
Description: Nationals starter Edwin Jackson improved to 2-0 for the month with the win Monday night against the Blue Jays. He worked eight innings, allowing three hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out three.
Insight: Jackson might not get as much attention as Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez or Jordan Zimmerman but he's been just as productive so far in 2012. He hasn't received much run support so his win total is low (this was just his third win of the year) but Jackson's ERA is 3.02 and opponents are hitting only .202 against him.
Description: Washington rightfielder Bryce Harper was 3-4 in his return to the Nationals' lineup Monday in Toronto.
Insight: All three of his hits were singles and Harper did get thrown out at home on one play, but it was still a terrific night for the 19-year-old. Harper is batting .364 in the month of June and is now hitting .295 for the season.
Description: Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez mowed down the Red Sox on Saturday for his eighth win of the season. He went 6.1 innings and allowed just three hits and two earned runs. He walked two and struck out five.
Insight: The only runs Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35 ERA) gave up came across on a two-run single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the seventh inning. The NL Pitcher of the Month for the month of May was outstanding again on Saturday. He's won six of his last seven starts.
Description: Outfielder Bryce Harper didn't let fellow Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg have all the fun in their first game at Fenway Park. Harper went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs to lead help Strasburg improve to 7-1.
Insight: Harper was questionable with a sore back, but it looks like he's feeling quite alright. So are fantasy owners after Harper and Strasburg tag-teamed to beat Boston Friday.
Description: Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard will serve as the team's closer until Drew Storen is activated, Washington manager Davey Johnson confirmed Friday.
Insight: The announcement was nothing more than a formality at this point, as Clippard has been brilliant in the role, saving 5-of-5 games. The right-hander hasn't allowed a hit since May 18, a string of 6 2/3 innings. Still, it's nice to know that Clippard owners won't have to worry about Sean Burnett or anyone else poaching saves until Storen returns after the All-Star break.
Description: Bryce Harper is questionable for Friday's game versus the Red Sox. He is battling a sore back.
Insight: Harper (.276, 5 HRs, 14 RBIs) injured his back diving for a hit by David Wright in the eighth inning of Thursday's loss to the Mets. The 19-year-old rightfielder went 0-4 in the game with a pair of strikeouts.
Description: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman punched a home run to deep center field Thursday in a 3-1 loss to the Mets. It was Zimmerman's third round-tripper of 2012 and his first since May 19th against the Orioles.
Insight: He's 5-13 (.385) in his last three games. It's been a slow first two months for the longtime Nationals third baseman but maybe he's finally on to something.
Description: Nationals starter Edwin Jackson held the Mets to three runs (two earned) on three hits while walking four and striking out six Wednesday to earn his second victory of the season.
Insight: Jackson (2-3, 3.11 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) has been one of the worst supported pitchers in baseball this year. Wednesday was his first win since he threw a complete game on April 14 against Cincinnati.
Description: Washington Nationals minor league outfielder Corey Brown has slugged seven homers in his last nine games with Triple-A Syracuse.
Insight: Brown earned a callup to the majors after hitting a homer in five straight games from May 20-25, but he received just three pinch-hit at-bats before returning to Triple-A. The outfielder has returned to form quickly with Syracuse and is now second in the International League with 14 homers. Perhaps this will convince Washington to give him an extended look.
Description: Gio Gonzalez lost for the first time since April 29 Sunday against Atlanta. Gonzalez allowed three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out five.
Insight: Even baseball's best starters have a poor outing every so often, but the key is limiting the damage to avoid killing your ERA and WHIP. In his two worst outings of the season, Gonzalez has allowed seven runs on 14 hits in 8 1/3 innings, which is lousy but not backbreaking. Look for the Nationals ace to get back on track in his next start.
Description: Michael Morse returned to the Nationals lineup on Saturday against Atlanta. Morse hit fifth, played right field and went 0-for-4 in the game.
Insight: Morse was slated to return on Friday after spending the entire season on the disabled list with a torn lat muscle, but Washington's game against Atlanta was rained out. Hopefully Morse proves that he was worth the wait for fantasy owners who drafted the slugger.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg turned in one of his best outings of the season against Atlanta on Saturday. The 23-year-old right-hander shut out the Braves on four hits over seven innings. He walked none and struck out nine.
Insight: Strasburg hadn't thrown seven innings in a start since April 28. He wasn't able to get past five in any of his last three outings. The flamethrower now has 79 strikeouts in 65 innings, a 10.9 K/9.
Description: Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg will start on Saturday after having his turn against the Braves on Friday postponed.
Insight: Strasburg hasn't eclipsed five innings pitched in any of his last three starts. Everyone in the Nationals' rotation will have their start pushed back a day, so owners in head-to-head leagues won't get another start out of Jordan Zimmermann this week. Zimmermann will be pushed back to Monday with Gio Gonzalez starting on Sunday.
Description: Reports have Nationals outfielder Michael Morse being activated and is expected to bat cleanup and start in right field on Friday night.
Insight: Morse says he's back to 100-percent, but expect him to be rusty. He batted .303 last season with 31 HR and 95 RBI. Fantasy owners who held on to him for the first two months have to be excited.
Description: Michael Morse played the outfield in a minor league rehab game on Thursday, the first time he has played there since reinjuring his strained lat about a month and a half ago.
Insight: Morse said he felt great, despite going 0-3 in three at bats for the Single-A Potomac Nationals. It's yet to be determined whether or not Washington will activate him from the DL on Friday or send him on another brief rehab assignment, possibly with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.
Description: Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche struggles against Miami ace Josh Johnson. He's just a .167 hitter (3-for-18) versus the right-hander with eight strikeouts.
Insight: With all the injuries to the Nationals lineup (Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Michael Morse), LaRoche was a key to the early success of their offense. LaRoche's bat has slowed considerably of late, batting just .119 over the past two weeks. Add the unfavorable matchup and LaRoche should be watching the action from your bench today.
Description: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is just 1-for-13 with six strikeouts against Miami starter Anibal Sanchez. Sit him today.
Insight: We've always known that with Espinosa's power came a low batting average, but his .651 OPS is 80 points below last season and despite five home runs he's got just 12 RBI in 169 at-bats. He'll need a big second half if he's to produce up to preseason expectations.
Description: Tyler Clippard earned his third save of the season Saturday in an 8-4 victory over the Braves.
Insight: The Nationals announced that Clippard and Sean Burnett would be sharing the closer duties while Brad Lidge and Drew Storen are out but so far there hasn't been much sharing going on. Clippard has been on the mound for each of Washington's last three save opportunities, converting all three. Clippard could be a smart pickup if you're looking for a quick fix in the saves category.
Description: It wasn't Stephen Strasburg's finest performance of the season, but he was still able to earn the win Saturday against the Braves, surrendering four runs on six hits over five innings of work. He struck out six and walked four.
Insight: Strasburg hasn't looked sharp in his past few outings (2-1, 5.79 ERA in his last three games). We're not sure if it's a slump or if the struggles have something to do with the biceps tightness that forced Strasburg to leave his last start early. Good or bad, at least the Nationals' offense is finally starting to give Strasburg some run support: they've scored a combined 17 runs during his past two starts.
Description: Ross Detwiler has been demoted to the Nationals' bullpen and will be replaced in the starting rotation by Chien-Ming Wang, who was just recently activated from the disabled list.
Insight: Detwiler was 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA in April but he's followed that up with a horrendous 1-2 record and a 5.74 ERA in May. Detwiler will be a candidate to regain his role as Washington's No. 5 starter if any of the Nationals starters get injured but for now he'll probably only be used in long relief situations.
Description: Chien-Ming Wang will replace Ross Detwiler in the Nationals' starting rotation.
Insight: Detwiler was scheduled to start Wednesday against the Marlins so now it looks like that's when we'll see Wang make his season debut as a starter. Wang was 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts for the Nationals in 2011. He's available in virtually all fantasy leagues right now so he could be a low-risk, high-reward guy if you're looking for depth in your starting rotation.
Description: Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett will share the closer duties until Drew Storen is ready to return from the disabled list.
Insight: This announcement comes on the heels of Henry Rodriguez losing his job as the team's closer earlier in the week. Clippard (1-2, 3.00) and Burnett (0-0, 0.68 ERA) are both capable of earning saves but neither one should be looked at as long-term fantasy solutions at the closer position.
Description: Ross Detwiler allowed three runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Braves on Friday. Detwiler walked four and struck out five.
Insight: Detwiler is losing his grip on the No. 5 spot in the Nationals' rotation, especially considering Chien-Ming Wang returned to throw three solid innings of relief on Friday. Wang picked up the victory after Detwiler exited, and he may soon steal his rotation spot as well. The lefty Detwiler hasn't thrown more than 6 1/3 innings in any of his nine starts this season.
Description: Michael Morse (lat) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Monday with High-A Potomac, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Insight: Morse will play extended spring training games over the weekend before joining Potomac. The first baseman hit two home runs on Friday in extended spring training action. Morse is projected to rejoin the Nationals in time for their June 8 game against the Red Sox. The game is at Boston, so Morse can DH.
Description: Ryan Zimmerman is back in the Nationals' lineup on Wednesday. Zimmerman sat on Tuesday with a sore shoulder.
Insight: The shoulder injury is not believed to be serious. Zimmerman has been a major disappointment this season, missing two weeks and playing poorly when he's been in the lineup. He did have three-straight multi-hit games from May 18-20, but he followed that up with an 0-for-4 performance and a late scratch. He'll have to start producing to justify a lineup spot through June.
Description: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is questionable for Wednesday's game against Philadelphia with a sore right shoulder. He did not play on Tuesday.
Insight: Zimmerman had posted three consecutive multi-hit games until going 0-for-4 on Monday night. He's raised his average 24 points since returning from the disabled list two weeks ago, so this is a bad time to come down with another injury.
Description: Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche is a rare lefty who likes to bat against Phillies southpaw Cole Hamels. In 16 career at-bats, LaRoche has hit three homers off the Phillies ace.
Insight: LaRoche, a well-known second-half hitter, has helped keep the Nationals in the pennant race with his early season offense. He's batting .298 with seven homers and 32 RBI in his first 39 games to pick up the slack for injured Jayson Werth and Michael Morse.
Description: Henry Rodriguez has been relieved of his duties as the team's closer.
Insight: Rodriguez was replaced by Sean Burnett in the ninth inning Monday night after allowing a run to start the inning. Manager Davey Johnson said that the Nationals will use a closer by committee until Drew Storen (elbow) returns from the disabled list.