This week the Nationals lost an All-Star to a season ending injury. It feels like fall in DC.
Injuries have loomed large in the past for the Nationals and never more so than this season. The loss of Wilson Ramos is only the latest in a litany of players hitting the injury report. The list is not only long, but also littered with all-star caliber players; Stephen Strasburg, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper to name a few – all in varying stages of decrepitude.
Obviously guys like Harper and Murphy are expected to return at full strength (or close to it) in October, but there are question marks surrounding Strasburg, and Ramos has been ruled out entirely. That leaves Dusty Baker with the difficult task of navigating a postseason fraught with danger with a much depleted squad. Here are a few of the reasons he will be able to do it, steering the franchise to its first ever World Series:
Offense heating up
Even with Harper struggling and Murphy absent from the lineup for much of the past month, the Nationals’ bats have suddenly come alive. Pieces like Trea Turner have become invaluable and should remain that way through the playoffs. With several players in the lineup who can reach base and grab extras with a steal, the Nats are built to manufacture runs in tight spots when the hits just aren’t coming.
And if you think that Bryce Harper is going to sit back and settle for mediocrity under the bright lights of October, you’re crazy.
He’s only one man, but what a man he is. Scherzer has been as good as any pitcher in the league this year, worth a win almost every time he takes the mound. In October when a single win means so much more than it does throughout most of the year, there’s almost no one you would rather have on the mound.
Strasburg may yet return to the mound this year, but if he doesn’t Mad Max will become all the more important. Scherzer will most likely need to win each of his starts in the postseason for Washington to make a significant run.
It’s Time for Something Good
This one isn’t scientific, but it feels like it’s finally time for something good to happen for Washington. They are a division-winning playoff team that has lived up to expectations but aren’t the heavily favored team to win it all.
In the past they’ve crashed and burned under the weight of World Series dreams. They were expected to win, but they couldn’t achieve their potential despite no visible roadblocks. This year feels different. There is a cohesiveness to the clubhouse and just enough adversity on the field to light a fire.
It feels like it’s finally time.
No jinx.Tags: Dusty Baker, Max Scherzer, Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals