The 2017 regular season is over, and we can wrap it up and tie it with a bow. The Nationals came one win short of tying their franchise-best record, and that happened even given numerous injuries and a flaky first-half bullpen. The regular season was one of Washington’s best, with a dynamite offense and loaded pitching staff, the best Nationals team possibly ever is ready to take on the postseason. But before we embark on that journey, let’s take a look back to reflect on the season that was, not by counting down the best moments for the team, but looking at the best moment for each player.
Three months ago, to think that the answer to this question could be anyone but Max Scherzer was silly. But of late, things have changed. The Nationals have three starting pitchers with the potential to win the Cy Young award. Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg have all been pitching Cy Young-caliber ball, especially of late. They’re starting to be referred to as the “Three-Headed Monster.” If I had my way, I’d break the award into three pieces and give it to all of them to share.
But alas, the world doesn’t work that way. Only one can win the Cy Young, and here I discuss who of the three Nats starters has the best chance to beat out Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and each other for the award.
Congrats, Nationals! You’ve clinched the NL East. Hope you had fun pouring champagne on each other and getting blasted with the off day on Monday.
When talking about the National League Cy Young award, the talking heads only seem to talk about two names: Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. And while those are good names to discuss, that’s not the name they should be talking about. Right in the middle of the talks should be Gio Gonzalez.
With all the injuries decimating the Nationals this season, Nats outfielders have been dropping like flies. And with Bryce Harper and Brian Goodwin going down quickly, Michael A. Taylor’s return was nothing short of a blessing. It was also at the perfect time, coming during the stretch in which they played three games in about twenty-four hours, and help was so desperately needed.
With about two more months to go until the regular season ends, and with the postseason picture becoming more clear, it’s become obvious that unless something changes drastically, the Nats are going to play the winner of the NL Central in the playoffs. And right now, it’s looking like that team is going to be the Cubs (unless the Brewers can fulfill my chaos-fueled wishes and unseat the Cubs).
For the last few years, the Nationals have been known for their starting pitching. At the the beginning of the season, they looked to have one of the strongest rotations in the league. Max Scherzer had just won the Cy Young, Stephen Strasburg looked to finally be the full-year, dominant starter we’d expected him to be, Tanner Roark was coming off a career year, Gio Gonzalez got off to an incredibly hot start, and Joe Ross was looking to become a full-time rotation piece. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
On Saturday, it was announced that Joe Ross, who left his last start after 3.1 innings due to an injury, would have season-ending Tommy John surgery to fix the tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow. Ross had been experiencing some declining velocity in his pitches through his starts all season, so an arm injury isn’t all that surprising. But this sudden surgery will end his season and likely set him back for most of 2018 with no current timetable for return. This puts a pin into an up-and-down season for Ross, puts the Nationals down a fifth starter, and adds another item to their midseason wish list.