This is the second of three parts in my offseason preview series. If you want to know more about the methodology, check out part one here. You should also just read it anyway! How did you even get to part two first?
The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, and that strangest of victories sent us into this strangest of offseasons. The weakest free agent class in memory means teams will have to battle for very few players or get creative in trades and with internal options.
With the conclusion of the World Series, the offseason is officially here. Although 2016 ended in disappointment for the Nationals, the team doesn’t lose a lot heading into 2017 and figures to once again be in the mix for the 2017 World Series. Like most teams, the Nationals have some work to do around the edges, like solidifying a bullpen that loses a few arms and replacing some of the bench players. But the big moves for the Nationals will be dictated by their answer to the following four crucial questions.
Ohhh boy. Oh man, oh man, oh man. Oh boy. Oh man. Hooooo boy. The postseason is upon us, y’all. Friday night, Max Scherzer will duel Clayton Kershaw and the backs of our seats will be neglected. As the christening of the postseason became closer and closer through the week, the Nats prepared on the field while they stirred up excitement off it. Now that the NLDS is brushing against our fingertips, it’s time to recap.
As the Washington Nationals enter the National League Division Series, all eyes are on whether they can finally win a postseason series. The club’s health in recent weeks complicates the picture against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the pieces are in place for a competitive first round matchup.
It’s been a week since the Nationals clinched the NL East with a win against the Pittsburgh Pirates and with the Philadelphia Phillies surpassing expectations by not blowing a ten run lead. In this week since, Bryce Harper has been sidelined with a thumb injury and Wilson Ramos’ ACL may have put his last play as a National in the books. Baseball can be one cruel mistress, but sometimes you can find light at the end of the tunnel. As luck will have it, there are pictures and videos of your favorite baseball team clinching a division title for the third time in five years. Lookit.
As I watched Wilson Ramos land awkwardly and crumple to the ground pointing at his knee Monday night, a lot was going through my mind. I was mad that the Nationals had to play in the sloppy conditions in DC that night. I was frustrated with Dusty Baker for not giving Ramos more time off. I cursed the baseball gods who clearly had a hand in sending first Stephen Strasburg then Daniel Murphy then Bryce Harper and now Ramos to the bench with injuries. I wondered how many people weren’t watching the game because they were doing something much more important like watching the presidential debate. I hated the Diamondbacks and their stupid jerseys. I missed Jose Fernandez, because anything related to baseball makes me miss Jose Fernandez this week. But most of all, in the midst of all that emotion, I feared what this injury might do to ruin what has been an amazing season of baseball in DC.
There have been 159 pitching debuts during the 2016 season thus far. The ERAs of these pitchers range from 0.00 to 40.50. But, of course, none of them are women. Pitch, the newest fall FOX drama, imagines a Major League Baseball where this isn’t the case — an imagination that leads them to a worthwhile pilot episode and hopefully beyond.
September baseball can be agonizing for many reasons, but mainly because it’s not October. It could be agonizing because your team is waiting on a mercy killing or (as is the case with the Nationals) because they are involved in the world’s slowest countdown – the countdown of the magic number.