With a playoff berth looking surer by the day, the Washington Nationals must look to October. The franchise’s playoff history is far from sterling, but what about this year’s team? Could they be the ones to break through and bring DC its first baseball title since 1924? One easy way to figure it out is by looking at how the past few champions have made their way to destiny.
Once again, Mike Rizzo was caught napping. While his prize $175 million porcelain doll, Stephen Strasburg, was out hurting himself — once again! — the Mets were out solidifying their next seven World Series titles. Savvy New York signed the single best athlete flying under the radar, Tim Tebow, to a steal of a rookie league deal. Tebow will be reporting to the instructional league in Florida soon, but don’t expect him to stay long.
Of all callous things in baseball, a pitcher’s arm cares the least about how the season is supposed to go. Stephen Strasburg’s only natural enemies are the sun and the whole right side of his body. But this isn’t about the strained flexor mass in the pitcher’s right arm, or the dark embrace of the September Disabled List. It’s about what the Nationals did off-field to provide some distraction from the image of Strasburg exiting, glove covering his mouth. Buffalo-back rides and walk-up songs might just suffice.
Wednesday night’s walk off win against the Atlanta Braves doesn’t feel like the headline after Stephen Strasburg left the game in obvious discomfort in the third inning.
Stephen Strasburg had unreasonable expectations placed upon him from the moment he reached the big league level. He was a number one overall pick with a triple-digit fastball, a disgusting curveball that caused MLB regulars to buckle their knees, and a changeup that dove hard in on righties. He was the first true hope that the Nationals saw enter their organization since Ryan Zimmerman was drafted in 2005.
Continue Reading The Majesty of Stephen Strasburg
No jinx, but the Nationals are inching closer to officially locking up a playoff spot. The sizable lead the team owns in the NL East allows the Nationals to be smart about playing time down the stretch. Joe Ross needs time to build up arm strength? Let him get as many rehab starts as possible. Stephen Strasburg isn’t 100%? Skip one more start just to be safe. The relief pitchers, though, still have something to play for: a spot on the playoff roster.
On Saturday, our esteemed Erin Flynn noted on SI.com that the Washington Nationals are receiving plenty of reinforcements from their farm system. Trea Turner has lived up to his expectations, and the Nationals were recently helped by a solid start from A.J. Cole.
One player Erin mentioned, however, stands out: reliever Koda Glover. Between the majors and the minors this year, the hard-throwing right-hander has been consistently dominant, making a case that the Nationals should rely on him for the postseason.
The “dog days” of August are stupid, mostly because they are misleading and provide no extra dogs for petting or looking at on the feeds of Nationals players’ instagrams. What I’m trying to say is the Nats were relatively quiet this week on social media, but there was lots of on-ish, but technically off, field stuff to takes its place. Max Scherzer protested Jayson Werth’s freedom, Mark Melancon discovered GIFs, and Shawn Kelley became a campaign manager.
Trea Turner has taken the big leagues by storm. Coming into Tuesday night’s game against the Phillies, Turner was hitting .341/.361/.538 with 17 stolen bases before tacking on two more hits and a stolen base. Over those 42 games, he’s already accumulated 2.1 WAR, according to Fangraphs. It’s obviously early in Turner’s career, but those early returns suggest that Turner is set for a long career in the big leagues.
Baby humans, baby dogs, and gold medals are probably among the world’s greatest natural healers. The Nationals dropped four games in a row this week, once again leaving the burden of healing on off-field things.