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Nationals-Yankees series preview: Will Daniel Murphy play in New York?

Daniel Murphy could return this week. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

NEW YORK — The Nationals and Yankees were supposed to begin their four-game series last month in Washington, but rain limited them to a suspended six-inning game. The clubs will resume that game June 18 at Nationals Park before a second postponed game that was rained out.

Before that, though, they will meet at Yankee Stadium for the first time since 2015, where soon-to-be-free-agent Bryce Harper’s presence will surely cause a stir.


Not that the Yankees need a slugging outfielder right now. With Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, the scorching Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks rotating through the three outfield spots, the Yankees led baseball in home runs and on-base-plus-slugging percentage entering Monday.

In the infield, second baseman Gleyber Torres, a 21-year-old rookie, has 11 home runs and a .915 OPS in 42 games, while third baseman Miguel Andujar, a 23-year-old rookie, has eight home runs and an .891 OPS in 53 games. They’ve helped offset Didi Gregorius’s nightmare May after a blistering April. Then there’s catcher Gary Sanchez, whose 12 home runs lead all catchers.

As for the pitching, New York boasts the fourth-best ERA and second-highest strikeout rate in the big leagues. Luis Severino has emerged as a legitimate ace atop the rotation with a 2.27 ERA in 14 starts, though the Nationals will miss him this week.

Juan Soto has arrived. Who’s got next among Nationals prospects?


Daniel Murphy traveled with the Nationals to New York on Sunday. Does that mean he made the trip to play in games? There’s a chance. Manager Dave Martinez did not shut down the possibility when asked if the all-star second baseman could be activated this week. He said it all depended on how Murphy, who took ground balls and batting practice Sunday at Nationals Park, felt.

The 33-year-old Murphy hasn’t played in a major league game this season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee in October. Instead, he’s played in 10 games with Class AA Harrisburg on a rehab assignment that began on May 26. He batted .243 with an .823 OPS in 44 plate appearances while making six errors in eight starts at second base. Murphy also made two starts at first.

Mobility, both in the field and on the base paths, has been Murphy’s final obstacle. The six errors suggest his range could have been hindered on his rehab assignment, but if he is reinstated this week, the Nationals could use him as their designated hitter over their next five games because they’ll be in American League ballparks against the Yankees and Blue Jays.

Daniel Murphy could rejoin the Nationals’ lineup this week ‘if he feels like he’s ready’


The Nationals need a starting pitcher Wednesday night to fill Stephen Strasburg’s spot in the rotation, and though they haven’t announced who will start, the answer seems rather obvious. Erick Fedde, next on the Nationals’ depth chart, last pitched Friday. That conveniently puts him on turn to step in for Strasburg, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation Sunday.

Fedde made a spot start for Washington last month, allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings. This stint will likely last longer. While the Nationals haven’t disclosed a timeline for Strasburg, he’ll seemingly miss multiple starts, and Fedde should stick around at least until Strasburg returns. The right-hander has posted 15 strikeouts to no walks his last two starts with Class AAA Syracuse and surrendered two runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings on Friday. He has a 4.76 ERA in 11 outings with Syracuse this season.

The Nationals are carrying an usual pitching staff comprised of nine relievers and three starting pitchers; they had a reliever take Strasburg’s spot on the roster Sunday to have extra help in the bullpen for two games. Trevor Gott or Wander Suero, the two relievers added Sunday, figure to be sent back to Syracuse barring another development.


Tuesday: RHP Tanner Roark vs. LHP CC Sabathia
Wednesday: TBA vs. RHP Sonny Gray

Read more Nationals:

Max Scherzer can’t do it all, and the Nationals drop their series finale to the Giants

Stephen Strasburg will go on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation

Daniel Murphy looks like himself at the plate in Class AA rehab game at Richmond

Juan Soto was supposed to be two years away, but he’s shown he belongs right now