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.
We’ve reached the All Star break, meaning we’ve hit the “halfway” point of the season. At this point, we can typically take a step back and get a good look at baseball thus far this season and maybe get a good prediction of how it’s going to end. Of course, anything can happen between now and October, and I am neither an expert nor am I clairvoyant. But I’m going to give a go at predicting some of the likely candidates to win the National League MVP at the end of the season. Last August I did the exact same thing (albeit with a month and a half more playing time to consider), and I correctly predicted the top five MVP finalists. So here is my early insight into potential 2017 MVP candidates.
Everyone is hurt, the bullpen sucks, and Gio Gonzalez wasn’t named an All-Star. The Nationals were in a bit of a skid until Max Scherzer hurled a gem on Sunday night, and things weren’t looking so pretty. Trea Turner’s wrist is broken, Jayson Werth is still out, and the bullpen is a revolving door of awfulness. And yet the Nationals have continued to play some consistent baseball. So who’s been the saving grace throughout all these injuries? Not Scherzer or any of the big boppers in the lineup, but Brian Goodwin.
Continue Reading Brian Goodwin, the Saving Grace