I have tried to ignore it for days but it is time the address the elephant in the room — or in this case, the dumpster fire in the room. I am, of course, referring to the Los Angeles Dodgers and their increasingly slim lead for the best record in baseball. An 11-game losing streak and only twos win in September through 13 days of the month have created a gaping opportunity for the Washington Nationals to overtake them for home field advantage. This, along with very little else exciting happening for Nats fans, has created a storm of hot takes surrounding the merits of earning the top overall seed. I have considered all sides of this and have finally come to a definitive conclusion: being the top seed is good.
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.
The Nats just swept the Miami Marlins, their closest division rival, and outscored them eleventy billion to 4*. (*It really isn’t important). The Nats are also about 8ish games either side of the “very mediocre” Chicago Cubs, and the “peaking too quickly” Los Angeles Dodgers. The magic number is 4, and it is barely the first week of September. This season has been over and locked in since roughly May of 1932.
So what does a Nats fan do for the rest of the month? Maybe we could all play outside…for a good cause!
Back by popular demand, the September Awareness Guide is here! In the month since we last did this, the Washington Nationals still have an enormous division lead and thus are still not exactly appointment television. With that in mind, there are a few things to follow the last four weeks around baseball besides updates on Bryce Harper’s physical, and mental, health.
Over the bases and through the steps, to the clubhouse Zimmy goes.
The Ryan Zimmerman Renaissance is the gift that keeps on giving. Homers, extra base hits, infield singles, a renewed spring in his step–all products of this great age in Zim-history. Zimmerman scoring from first on a Howie Kendrick double is another product. The beeline he made for the clubhouse after touching home might be better though.
Bryce Harper got his hair done in Miami, posted a picture of it on his Instagram story, and the entire internet has decided this means another year without a Nats NLCS appearance. And I mean, maybe they’re not wrong.
The Nationals are cruising to their fourth division title in six years. Most importantly, they have played well with an MLB-high 12 men on the disabled list. On the night Jayson Werth and Max Scherzer came off the disabled list, they clown-pounded the white-hot Marlins. They followed that up by completing the sweep with Vintage Strasmas: Stephen Strasburg pitching a complete-game shutout in which he also homered. Trea Turner is back and running all over the bases. This team is getting healthy, and game one against the Marlins is a reminder of what this lineup can do when healthy. Regular season success is nice, but the playoffs is what matters. Thomas Boswell put it so eloquently, as emblazoned on the walls of the Hall of Fame:
“Baseball is really two sports — the summer game and the autumn game. One is the leisurely pastime of our national mythology. The other is not so gentle.”
By the time you read this article, it’ll be September. As we all know, that means rosters expand and anyone on the 40-man roster is eligible to be called up. Chief among the certain recalls will be Pedro Severino, the catching prospect who the Nationals are fond of, at least to the extent that they wouldn’t trade him straight-up for White Sox closer David Robertson. The next few minutes of your life will not be spent reading about why Severino is the next Buster Posey, or even why he should be starting games: neither is really true. Pedro has found some success at the Major League level which I will discuss in a minute, but his inability to get on base consistently or hit for much power at any level is why he has not been banging down Matt Wieter’s door this season. Instead, this is a condemnation of one of baseball’s worst hitters in 2017: Jose Lobaton.