The Nationals welcomed Jayson Werth and Max Scherzer back to the roster last night, with both making strong contributions in their win. Today (weather permitting), they’ll see shortstop Trea Turner come off the disabled list as well, giving them another boost down the stretch as they gear up for the NLDS. As Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post writes, that’s just one step closer to whole for a Nats club that has played well through injuries but hasn’t gotten a chance to showcase how formidable it can be with its key lineup pieces and summer bullpen additions all healthy at the same time. Bryce Harper and Ryan Madson are the final major pieces of the puzzle, Svrluga notes, though surely the Nats would also relish the opportunity to add a healthy Koda Glover and Enny Romero to the mix as well.
A few more notes from the National League East…
- Jay Bruce was the focal point of trade rumors and (earlier in his tenure) criticism for much of his time with the Mets, but the slugger tells Dan Martin of the New York Post that he is “absolutely” open to a reunion with the Mets in free agency this winter. Bruce tells Martin that he’s never seen a team as gutted by injuries as the 2017 Mets and still believes the team has the talent to contend in 2018. “I believe the Mets are a team that feels obligated to put a winning group out there, barring any injuries,” says Bruce. “I enjoyed my time in New York. It’s a great group of guys there. The talent’s there. The nucleus is there. We’ll see what happens.”
- The Braves made what appear to be some fairly minor changes in their front office, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended), but some within the organization wonder if they’re the start to larger alterations. Among the more notable changes, Dom Chiti has moved from director of pitching to farm director, per Rosenthal. Special assistant Dave Wallace will step into Chiti’s former role. Dave Trembley will no longer serve as farm director and will instead be a field coordinator. Many teams make changes to their front office structure and scouting departments around this time, so the exact timing of the moves isn’t a surprise. One club official, though, spoke to Rosenthal about a “power struggle,” rhetorically asking: “Is John Schuerholz running the club or are John Hart and John Coppolella running it?” Rosenthal cites other Braves sources in reporting that Hart refutes the validity of that view. Hart, according to Rosenthal, is expected to return next year (his contract runs through 2017), and the Braves are also expected to eventually hire another exec to work under current Coppolella, who is currently the GM.
- The Phillies still aren’t certain exactly where Rhys Hoskins will play for the remainder of the 2017 season once Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera are activated from the disabled list, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. But, Hoskins’ historic start to his MLB career all but ensures that he’ll be in the lineup on a daily basis down the stretch. Manager Pete Mackanin suggested that he knows fully what Herrera and Altherr are capable of, so Hoskins could get some at-bats at their expense down the stretch. He’ll also be mixed in at first base, though Mackanin suggested that current first baseman Tommy Joseph “is an asset” for the Phils as well. Also of note, Zolecki notes that top prospect J.P. Crawford “is certain” to receive a September call-up, so Phils fans will soon have another look at one of the team’s hopeful core pieces.
- Zolecki focuses on the 2017 season, but the issues that he raises lead to the greater question of Joseph’s future with the team. The Phillies have likely seen enough from Altherr and rookie Nick Williams that they’ll want each to get regular at-bats in the outfield corners next season, thus preventing Hoskins from playing left field. It seems largely inevitable that Hoskins will claim the regular first base role in 2018, barring the trade of a young outfielder this winter, which either makes Joseph himself a trade candidate or pushes him into a bench role.